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Mariners avoid three-game sweep

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Jeff Harris pitched in minor and
independent leagues from China to Mexico to Canada. He spent
offseasons doing construction jobs, just biding time until it was
baseball season again.

Eleven years after being drafted, the 31-year-old Seattle
Mariners right-hander finally has his first major-league victory.

Harris, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his second career
start, limited the Texas Rangers to four singles and an unearned
run over seven innings in the Mariners' 8-2 victory on Thursday.

"This is the only thing I've ever wanted to do," Harris said.
"I was just going to ride it out as long as I could. I always told
myself I had the rest of my life to get a real job."

Ichiro Suzuki hit a grand slam in a five-run ninth inning, and
Raul Ibanez also homered for the Mariners.

Seattle managed just three hits and three runs over the first
seven innings against Joaquin Benoit (3-4), who retired 18 batters
in a row at one point. He still lost his third straight start.

Harris was drafted by Minnesota in 1995, and stayed in the Twins
organization until he was released after the 2000 season. After two
years in an independent league in Chico, Calif., and failing to
make a team in Taiwan, Harris played in leagues in China and Mexico
before going to Quebec, where he was last summer when signed by the
Mariners organization.

"It was definitely worth every bit of it," Harris said. "I
wouldn't change what it took to get here for anything. ... To get
that first win is just a really special feeling."

Harris went seven innings and threw 94 pitches on a day when the
temperature was 95 degrees at game time. He benefited from four
double plays.

The right-hander had pitched in three games for Seattle in his
first major-league stint earlier this month, allowing three runs
and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in his only previous start, a 3-1
loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 7. He then went back to
Tacoma, but is back in the rotation spot of Gil Meche, who went on
the disabled list last weekend (right knee tendinitis).

"He threw strikes and when he got in trouble, he got
groundballs. That's how to pitch," manager Mike Hargrove said. "A
performance like that from your starter, it goes a long way. ... I
think Jeff might get another start."

The Rangers, who before this series had a 1-12 trip that was the
worst in team history, had 14 runs and 11 extra-base hits the first
two games against the Mariners. Texas leads the majors with 206
home runs.

Ibanez dropped a flyball in the second for an error that led to
a Texas run, but started an inning-ending double play with a
leaping catch against the left-field wall in the seventh against
Kevin Mench, Harris' last batter. Ibanez doubled up Hank Blalock at
first, when it was still 3-1.

After giving up two runs in the first, including the solo homer
by Ibanez, Benoit didn't allow another runner until Gregg Dobbs
reached with two outs in the seventh when left fielder David
Dellucci dropped a flyball for an error. Yuniesky Betancourt had an
RBI single.

"Joaquin was outstanding. His background is that he struggles
from the fourth through the sixth. It's been a challenge, but today
he was outstanding," manager Buck Showalter said.

"I did some things I haven't done," Benoit said. "I went
longer into the game and threw fewer pitchers. It was a good game
for me, but bad result."

Benoit struck out the first two batters of the game, getting
Ichiro on three pitches, before Ibanez hit his 17th homer. Richie
Sexson walked and scored on a double by Adrian Beltre before an
inning-ending flyout by Dobbs that started Benoit's impressive
streak.

While opponents are hitting just .201 against him, Benoit has
made five starts since his last victory, July 30 at Toronto.

The Rangers scored after Alfonso Soriano led off the second with
a liner to left that deflected out of Ibanez's glove. Adrian
Gonzalez drove him home with a single.

Game notes
Texas had a season-high four errors, two by All-Star
shortstop Michael Young, who has six errors in the last 13 games.
... Seattle optioned RHP Clint Nageotte to Tacoma to make room on
the roster for Harris. ... Rangers cleanup hitter Hank Blalock had
an RBI single in the ninth, his second straight game with an RBI
after none the previous 11 games.