ARLINGTON, TX—Colby Lewis had to wait more than six years between major league wins.
Lewis allowed one run and five hits in seven innings to lead the Texas Rangers over the Mariners 6-2 Friday night to send skidding Seattle to its fourth straight loss.
Barry Zito at Oakland on April 7, 2004.
"It's definitely a confidence-builder first time back, yeah," Lewis said. "You always want to go out and do well. I just wanted to go out and keep doing what I've been doing the last couple of years and throw strikes. That's the key that we always talk about every day."
Lewis began his career with Texas from 2002-04, had shoulder problems and was waived. He moved on to Detroit and Oakland, then spent the past two seasons with Hiroshima of Japan's Central League, where he went 26-17 with a 2.82 ERA in 55 games. He re-signed with the Rangers on Jan. 19 and made his first major league start since May 22, 2007, for the Athletics.
Lewis admitted he was tentative in the first few innings, but his confidence grew.
"I felt like I was a little timid until I got mad at myself really, and told myself to do what I've been doing and everything panned out," Lewis said.
Trailing 5-1, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Lewis struck out Jack Wilson and retired Ichiro Suzuki on a groundout.
"Anytime a pitcher gets into trouble like that and he gets out of it, it's outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I thought he gave us exactly what we needed to keep us in the ballgame and give us a chance."
Seattle had hoped for a quick start after making some big offseason additions, but at 1-4 the Mariners are off to their worst opening since dropping their first five games in 2004.
The Mariners, hitting .199 as a team, were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
"The whole game boiled down to what's happened the last five games, which is lack of offense and lack of situational hitting," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "These guys are going to hit at some point and we hope it's soon."
Nelson Cruz homered for the third time in four games, had three hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Rangers, who evened their record at 2-2. Vladimir Guerrero keyed a four-run sixth with an RBI double. He has had multiple hits in each of Texas' four games, a first for a Rangers newcomer.
The Rangers entered the night with a team batting average of .168. Cruz and Guerrero were the only Texas hitters who were hot.
This time, Guerrero (.600) and Cruz (.500) got some help as the Rangers finished with 12 hits.
"Right now it's their time," said Texas' Michael Young, who went 2 for 4. "It was nice to see the rest of the guys break out."
Jason Vargas (0-1) gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings for the Mariners. Casey Kotchman homered for Seattle.
Kotchman's RBI groundout put Seattle ahead in the first following Suzuki's leadoff double, and Cruz's homered tied the score in the fourth.
Josh Hamilton walked in the sixth and scored on Guerrero's double for a 2-1 lead. Cruz followed with an RBI single, Joaquin Arias singled off Shawn Kelley for a 4-1 lead and Elvis Andrus added an RBI single. Hamilton made it 6-1 with an RBI double in the seventh.
Kotchman homered in the eighth against Chris Ray.
Former Ranger Milton Bradley went 0 for 4 for the Mariners and is hitting .059 on the season. After popping out in the eighth, he glared for about 10 seconds at fans who were jeering him behind the visitor's dugout.
When he was asked if he knew about Bradley flipping off fans down the left field line after making a catch in the fourth, Wakamatsu declined comment.
Bradley was wearing headphones after the game and did not speak to reporters.