ARLINGTON, Texas – Mitch Moreland raced home from first base with the winning run after a wild pitch and a throwing error on a strikeout with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the AL West champion Texas Rangers over the last-place Seattle Mariners 6-5 Wednesday.
Moreland reached on a two-out walk in the ninth off Dan Cortes (0-1). Pitch-hitter Nelson Cruz then struck out, but reached on a wild pitch that bounced past catcher Guillermo Quiroz.
Quiroz retrieved the ball, but threw wildly into right field trying to get Cruz at first. Moreland never stopped running and beat the throw home by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Neftali Feliz (4-3), the third Rangers reliever, struck out one in a perfect ninth.
The Rangers had scored three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-all, scoring on a bases-loaded walk and another wild pitch by Cortes.
Cortes had been the first Seattle reliever since 1993 to open his major league career with consecutive appearances without allowing a runner when he struck out four while retiring the first six batters he faced. Things went much differently in the right-hander's third game.
Taking over for Jamey Wright in the eighth with two runners on, Cortes started with nine consecutive balls. The first walk loaded the bases and the second forced home a run before Julio Borbon hit an RBI single and a wild pitch allowed the tying run.
Quiroz's throw was to the infield side of the bag, and first baseman Justin Smoak was set up on the foul side. Suzuki made a strong throw home, but Moreland beat it.
Moreland had entered the game in the second when David Murphy left because of a strained left groin. The team said Murphy was having an MRI exam.
Smoak, the rookie first baseman sent to Seattle when the Rangers acquired ace left-hander Cliff Lee on July 9, homered for the third straight game against his former team. He hit a two-run homer in the first off Rich Harden, who might have made his last start for Texas.
The Mariners led 5-1 after Quiroz had a double in the sixth and scored when Suzuki reached on an error by shortstop Andres Blanco.
Texas (88-70) can still reach 92 wins, the mark that team president and co-owner Nolan Ryan had set as a goal before the season with a sweep in the upcoming four-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Mariners (61-97) have to split their four-game home series against Oakland to avoid their second 100-loss season in three years.
Smoak's homer was a 412-foot shot onto the hill in straightway center field, almost identical to his homer the night before. He has 13 homers this season.
Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run double in the fifth to make it 4-1, chasing Harden, who allowed four runs and six hits.
Texas signed Harden last winter to a free-agent deal for $6.5 million with a chance to earn another $2.5 million in performance bonuses. There is an $11.5 million mutual option for 2011 with a $1 million buyout for the Rangers.
Harden has been on the disabled list twice this season and is 5-5 with a a 5.58 ERA that is the highest in his career. It is unlikely that the right-hander will even be on Texas' playoff roster.
Notes: RHP Mark Lowe, who came with Lee in the July deal, struck out two in his debut for Texas. ... Seattle finished 26-55 on the road. ... Young went 2 for 5, upping his Rangers records to 542 multihit games and 1,845 hits. ... Seattle 3B Jose Lopez won't play in the field again this season after dislocating the tip of the middle finger on his right hand Tuesday night. He can swing a bat and might be used as a pinch-hitter.