"I'm 6-foot-8. He can hit corners at will," Sexson said. "Six-eight and all of a sudden he's up that high? I'm a huge target. How hard is it to hit me? Hit me in the back or thigh. Up near my face is no good.
"I've been in the game a long time. I've been hit on purpose before. But it's been the right way. You go to first. It's part of the game. You know how it works."
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run home run and then got hit by a pitch, setting up the fourth-inning scuffle.
When Sexson charged the mound, he flung his helmet at the 6-foot-3 Rangers starter. Both benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. Sexson was ejected.
"If you look at the replay, Gabbard was nowhere near Sexson's head," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I guess he was a little frustrated and things got out of control.
"Sexson overreacted. If we wanted to hit him, we would have hit him. He caused the melee, not us."
Gabbard was not ejected, but was removed two batters later with what appeared to be a leg injury and relieved by Franklyn German (1-0), who pitched 1 2/3 innings.
Gabbard, who had recently come off the disabled list gave up only two hits in 3 2/3 innings. He and German combined with Jamey Wright, Eddie Guardado and Frank Francisco to shut out the Mariners for the second successive night after a 2-0 victory on Wednesday. Seattle hasn't scored in 22 consecutive innings.
"I'm sure it all came to a head right there," Sexson said. "It's no secret we haven't scored any runs for a while. It's no secret we haven't lived up to our potential for a while."
Washington's main objection to Sexson's charge was that Sexson threw his helmet, hitting him in the back before pouncing.
"I thought that was bull," Washington said. "How tall is he, 6-13? Then you go out there on a little guy and throw a helmet?"
Felix Hernandez (2-3) struggled with his control through five innings, allowing four walks and six hits.
Hernandez was among the more animated players during the melee. He had to be restrained by three players, including Guardado, a former Mariner.
"It was the heat of the moment. Things happen like that. I was just trying to be a peacemaker. I'm too old to be throwing punches at anybody," Guardado said. "It was kind of fun, 'cause you get the blood going. Now you play some good baseball."
- Ramon Vazquez had four hits, including a sixth-inning RBI double.
- Seattle OF Brad Wilkerson, designated for assignment on April 30, was given his unconditional release Thursday.
- Mariners DH Jose Vidro missed his third consecutive game with back spasms. "He's feeling better but he's not even close to 100 percent," manager John McLaren said. "We're just taking it day by day."
- Rangers SS Michael Young, who left the game Wednesday in the bottom of the first because of injury to his left hip flexor, was held out.
- Before the game, Gabbard and infielder Travis Metcalf were taken off the DL. LHP A.J. Murray was optioned back to Class AAA Oklahoma City and 1B Ben Broussard was designated for assignment.