The Seattle Mariners who struggled badly just a few weeks ago are suddenly rolling.
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Smoak's RBI single in the eighth inning, his third hit of the game, pulled Seattle even, Cust followed with the go-ahead RBI single, and the Mariners rallied for a 4-3 victory against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
Seattle won for the sixth time in seven games, thanks to a gutty pitching effort from Bedard and some clutch hitting in the late innings.
"We always feel like we're in it," Smoak said. "Our pitching is going to keep us in games and as along as we can get those clutch hits with guys in scoring position we've got a chance."
The Mariners returned from a 5-1 road trip -- the only setback a 3-2 loss in Boston decided in the ninth inning -- and picked up right where they left off.
And this victory involved a little of everything: aggressive baserunning, timely hitting, a little small ball and strong pitching.
Bedard was much of the story, overcoming a horrid first inning where he threw 33 pitches and seemed destined for a short night. But the oft-injured, often criticized lefty proceeded to throw seven strong innings, carrying a no-hitter until Ian Kinsler doubled to lead off the sixth -- even though the game was tied at 1 at the time.
Bedard walked Kinsler and Andres Blanco to start the game, then got no help when Chone Figgins booted Adrian Beltre's grounder that allowed Kinsler to score. But after Beltre reached, Bedard was nearly perfect. He set down the next 14 batters, getting two nice defensive plays by Figgins to keep the streak going and a no-hitter alive.
That hope left when Kinsler led off the sixth with a double into the left-field corner, advanced to third on Blanco's sacrifice bunt and scored when Michael Young's grounder slid under second baseman Kennedy as he tried to smother it with the Mariners infield drawn in.
Bedard went seven innings, giving up two runs and three hits while striking out three, relying heavily on a good curveball and his changeup. It was his second successive start of at least seven innings, the first time he had done that since May 2 and May 7, 2008.
"As the game progressed, the changeup got really good and the curveball, too. I was throwing them for strikes, and that's what helped me out later in the game," Bedard said.
Bedard's effort was good enough to let Seattle's bats come through late.
It started in the seventh when Texas reliever Pedro Strop (0-1) gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Langerhans, who moved to second on a wild pitch and aggressively beat the throw sliding head first into third on Brendan Ryan's sacrifice bunt. Ichiro Suzuki grounded into a double play, but Langerhans scored to pull even at 2.
David Pauley (1-0) took over for Bedard in the eighth and saw Texas retake the lead when Julio Borbon led off with a single and scored standing up on Andrus' perfectly placed squeeze bunt. But Pauley limited the damage to only one run.
Seattle opened the eighth with a bloop single by Adam Kennedy that fell in front of David Murphy in left field. Miguel Olivo then dropped a bunt to advance pinch-runner Jack Wilson, but Strop slipped fielding the bunt and Olivo was safe.
Smoak grounded a 1-0 pitch into the hole between first and second. The grounder bounced off Mike Napoli as he dived and caromed into right field, allowing Wilson to score and Olivo to reach third. Smoak finished 3 for 4 with two RBI in his first home game since he left the team late last month following the death of his father. He now has 12 RBI in his past seven games.
Darren Oliver replaced Strop and saw Cust line his first pitch back up the middle to score Olivo with the go-ahead run.
"I've faced him a bunch over the years. I know he doesn't really have a pattern or anything like that. So you just have to be ready to hit," Cust said. "I know what his ball does ... the pitch was up a little bit and I was able to get it through the infield."
- Injured Rangers CF Josh Hamilton is expected to begin hitting off a tee on Wednesday. It's his first steps in returning from a broken right arm suffered last month against Detroit.
- Seattle rookie RHP Michael Pineda was named AL rookie of the month on Tuesday. Pineda went 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in April.
- Rangers RF Nelson Cruz left in the seventh inning with tightness in his right quad.