Mariners stumble out of second-half gate
Mariners manager Eric Wedge vowed Thursday afternoon that his team would continue to compete, no matter what. But the club didn't bring much to the party on Thursday night in a 5-0 loss to the front-running Rangers as Derek Holland held Seattle to five hits.

The Mariners (43-49) suffered their sixth straight setback, have lost 10 of their past 14 and now trail the Rangers by 8 1/2 games in the suddenly widening American League West standings. Texas (52-41) has won eight straight.

Seattle came out of the All-Star break looking out of sync as starter Jason Vargas gave up a season-high three home runs and the Mariners remained stuck in a rut that has seen them total just nine runs over the past six games.

Vargas surrendered 12 hits -- his previous high this year was nine -- and five runs in six innings, his record dipping to 6-7 with a 3.68 ERA.

Vargas had allowed just one home run over his last four starts, but gave up two in the first two innings to the hard-hitting Rangers as Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz both went deep.

It was Cruz's third home run off Vargas in 14 at-bats over his career, and he increased his team lead to 21 for Texas this season.

Mike Napoli added another home run in the sixth for Texas, which now has 115 long balls on the season compared to Seattle's 55.

The Mariners would have settled for any sort of hits against the left-handed Holland, who had a perfect game for five innings before walking Franklin Gutierrez and then giving up a single to Chone Figgins to start the sixth.

But Holland escaped that jam by retiring Greg Halman, Ichiro Suzuki and Brendan Ryan, then got Gutierrez to fly out with runners on first and third and two out in the seventh.

The Mariners' outfield defense didn't help much early as Ichiro went back to the wall on the Cruz shot, but didn't jump well as the ball sailed just over the fence in right. Yorvit Torrealba, the next batter, then hit a line drive to center that Gutierrez had trouble tracking and lost as it bounced out of his glove.

Torrealba was given a double on the play, with Gutierrez's string of 238 error-less games remaining intact.

On the other side, Ichiro nearly beat out an infield single leading off the fourth, but second baseman Ian Kinsler redirected the ball -- which never even got in his glove -- to first baseman Napoli to get the out by a half-step.

Jeff Gray, who pitched just three times in his first two months with the Mariners, made his second appearance in the last three games and held Texas hitless in the seventh and eighth innings.

(Courtesy of: www.mariners.com)