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M's falling out of AL wild-card picture

9/12/2002

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- That somber mood in the Seattle clubhouse had all the feelings of a funeral: despair, grief and shock.

Seattle's playoff hopes aren't dead yet, but the Mariners dug
themselves a pretty deep hole, being swept in a four-game series by
the last-place Texas Rangers.

"We've got to find a way to snap out of this and give ourselves
an eye-opening chance to stay in this thing,'' Mike Cameron said
after Thursday's 7-3 loss.

The Mariners, who hadn't been swept by the Rangers in a
four-game set in 10 years, dropped 6½ games behind Anaheim in the
AL wild-card race. The four-game losing streak matched the season
high.

"It's gone as far as it can,'' Bret Boone said. "It was bad timing and we never expected it. But there is not time to roll over.''

Anaheim played Thursday night at Oakland with a chance to tie
the Athletics for the AL West lead.

The Mariners, whose final 16 games are against AL West opponents, begin a three-game series Friday at Oakland. They are 84-61 and won't come close to their record 116 wins, set last season.

Herbert Perry went 3-for-4, including a pair of RBI doubles, and
Chan Ho Park won his fifth straight start to lead the Rangers.

Seattle got off to a good start against Park (9-6), with singles
by Ichiro Suzuki and Desi Relaford three pitches into the game and
John Olerud's two-run double.

But in the bottom of the first, Michael Young ended an 0-for-14
slump with his ninth homer and Rafael Palmeiro and Perry had
back-to-back doubles off Ryan Franklin (6-4) to tie the game.

The Rangers built a 7-2 lead after five innings and went on for their first four-game sweep over Seattle since April 1992, and their first in Texas since June 1986.

"It's not what we envisioned when we came in here,'' said Mariners manager Lou Piniella, whose team had won nine straight in Arlington before this week.

Perry led off the fourth with a single and scored after a walk,
a hit batter and a fielder's choice grounder. Todd Hollandsworth
and Young added consecutive RBI singles for a 5-2 lead.

Palmeiro started the fifth with another double, and again scored
on a Perry double. Todd Greene, whose had the game-winning RBI Tuesday and Wednesday, added a sacrifice fly to make it 7-2.

"I think our team enjoys playing well rather than being a spoiler,'' Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. "It all goes back to pitching. We pitched well in this series and won games.''

Park gave up three runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings,
struck out seven and walked three.

Park has won all five starts since coming off the disabled list
Aug. 23, a trip caused by a blister on the middle finger of his
pitching hand. Before that, the right-hander hadn't won consecutive
games since signing his $65 million, five-year contract last
December.

During his streak, Park has a 2.70 ERA, allowing 10 earned runs
in 33 1/3 innings with 34 strikeouts.

After Ruben Sierra walked to start the sixth, Dan Wilson singled
and Mike Cameron hit an RBI double off the left-center field wall
to end Park's day. But the Mariners then managed just one hit off
four more Texas pitchers.

"Yeah, it's frustrating. We lost and we didn't need to lose,'' Relaford said. "Even though the chances are bleak, I don't think we'll shut down and not play.''

Franklin, in his ninth career start, allowed five runs and seven hits in four innings. It was his shortest outing in six starts.

"He wasn't real sharp. We gave him a two-run lead and he gave
it right back,'' Piniella said. "It wasn't one of his better days.''

And it hasn't been one of the Mariners' better weeks.

Game notes
The previous four-game sweep for Texas was against Baltimore from July 24-26, 2001. ... Texas has won 22 of its last
34 games, and is 31-30 since the All-Star break. ... Relaford's
first-inning single gave him a 13-game hitting streak, a career
best. Even though he went 1-for-5, he's hitting .509 (28-of-58)
during the streak.... The Rangers drew their three smallest crowds
of the season during the series: 18,066 on Monday, 19,115 on
Tuesday and 19,211 on Thursday. ... Wilson and Cameron, the eighth
and ninth hitters in the Seattle order, were 6-for-6 and reached
eight times. Wilson was 4-for-4 with four singles while Cameron had
two doubles and walked twice.