SEATTLE -- David Murphy and Nelson Cruz delivered two-out RBI hits in the fifth inning against Felix Hernandez, and Joe Ortiz worked two perfect innings of relief for his first major-league win as the Rangers beat the Mariners 4-3 on Thursday night.
The Rangers needed a sharp defensive play by Robbie Ross and A.J. Pierzynski on an eighth-inning squeeze play that would have tied the game. Instead, Ross fielded the Brendan Ryan bunt and flipped to Pierzynski, who blocked Endy Chavez off the plate.
Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth inning for his 301st career save.
Justin Grimm labored through his first start of the season as the replacement for Matt Harrison, who landed on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed nerve in his back. Grimm needed 24 pitches in the first, 27 in the second and 26 in the third before turning in a 14-pitch fourth.
He was pulled before the fifth after missing up in the strike zone too often, including to the first batter he faced. Franklin Gutierrez hit a homer to left field, and Seattle scored again in the second on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice.
The Mariners had runners at second and third with one out in the third, but Grimm struck out Justin Smoak and got Jesus Montero to pop to right field to end the threat.
The Rangers, meanwhile, collected two singles in the first but couldn’t score against Hernandez. A.J. Pierzynski, though, kick-started a two-run second with a solo homer, and Mitch Moreland followed with a liner to left that was dropped by Raul Ibanez.
Leonys Martin singled Moreland to second before Ian Kinsler struck out for the second out. But Elvis Andrus squeezed a single through the left side of the infield to plate Moreland for a 2-1 lead.
The Rangers got going again in the fifth, an inning that started with a Kinsler single and an Andrus walk. Lance Berkman followed with a chopper to first and beat out the back end of a double play, a key sequence.
After Adrian Beltre struck out, Murphy singled home Kinsler and Cruz plated Berkman with a double to left for a 4-2 lead.
Ortiz entered in the fifth and recorded six straight outs before giving way to Tanner Scheppers. The right-hander got the first two Mariners in the seventh, but the next three reached and Robbie Ross had to strike out Ibanez to preserve the two-run edge.
-- Jeff Wilson