(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers look to avoid a rare sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners when the two AL West inhabitants close out a three- game series this afternoon from Safeco Field.
The Rangers dropped the opener of this set, 6-3, on Friday and suffered a tough 1-0 loss last night, wasting a terrific performance from starting pitcher Matt Harrison. The left-hander went the distance and allowed the only run and seven hits to fall to 17-10 this season. Michael Saunders homered off of Harrison in the second inning.
"I didn't really make a mistake," Harrison said of Saunders' homer. "It's where I wanted it to be, but (he) got extension on it and got it."
Mitch Moreland had two hits and Adrian Beltre (stomach) returned to the lineup, going 1-for-4. Beltre has been bothered by a stomach ailment, while fellow slugger Josh Hamilton is back in Texas dealing with a sinus problem.
Texas, which still leads the AL West by four games ahead of Oakland, has dropped three of five games and will return to Arlington following today's matchup with Seattle for a seven-game homestand versus the A's and Angels.
Ryan Dempster will try to bounce back into the win column when he gets the start for the Rangers today. Dempster was 5-0 with a 1.91 earned run average in his last five starts until he squared off with the LA Angels in Tuesday's 11-3 setback along the West Coast.
Dempster was touched for five runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings to fall to 6-2 with a 4.70 ERA in nine starts with Texas. The right-hander was 5-5 in 16 starts for the Chicago Cubs before switching leagues. Dempster is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three career games (1 start) against Seattle.
Seattle hasn't swept the Rangers since Sept. 28-30, 2007 and has won back-to- back games following a four-game slide.
In Saturday's 1-0 triumph, Saunders provided the offense, while Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak finished with two hits apiece.
Blake Beavan evened his record at 10-10 with seven shutout innings and both Josh Kinney and Tom Wilhelmsen threw a scoreless inning of relief. Wilhelmsen picked up his 29th save in the process.
"It wasn't an individual win," Kinney said. "You look around (in the clubhouse) and everyone's tickled cause we just took two from the number one team in the division."
Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley is still bothered by a sore neck suffered in Friday's series opener, and could miss today's game.
Seattle will close out its six-game homestand Sunday and will visit the Angels and Athletics on the road.
The M's will send Jason Vargas to the mound this afternoon and he is 14-10 with a 3.92 earned run average in 31 starts. Vargas is 1-2 in his past six trips to the mound and did not record a decision in last Saturday's 8-6 win at Texas, as he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Vargas, a left-hander, is 4-5 with a 4.70 ERA in 14 career matchups, 12 of which have been starts, with the Rangers. He has posted career highs in wins (14) and innings (204 1/3) this season, and will match his career high in starts Sunday. He made 32 starts a year ago.
Texas and Seattle have split 18 meetings this season.
09/23 09:04:15 ET