Rookie hurlers face off in Seattle

Brandon Maurer states his case to remain in the Seattle Mariners' rotation on Sunday when they conclude a four-game set with the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.

Maurer has been awful in two starts and didn't make it out of the first inning on Tuesday against Houston, as he was ripped for six runs and seven hits before being pulled. He had allowed six runs in six innings in his debut.

The leash on the 22-year-old righty, who had never pitched above Double-A before breaking camp with the Mariners, may be getting shorter following Seattle's acquisition of Aaron Harang earlier in the week.

Texas, meanwhile, had no complaints with its rookie hurler, Nick Tepesch, who was terrific in his big league debut on Tuesday. Tepesch held the Tampa Bay Rays to a run and four hits over 7 1/3 innings in that one.

"Tremendous makeup," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Trusts his stuff, knows what he's capable of doing. Never gets outside of himself. Those are the traits we saw in spring training."

On Saturday, Elvis Andrus drove in the winning run in the eighth inning to help Texas to a 3-1 victory. Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz also had an RBI apiece for the Rangers, who have won five of their last seven.

"Saunders was throwing the ball good, hitting his spots, in and out," said Beltre. "We had one big chance sixth inning and he came out of it, we only scored one, which was good at least to tie the ballgame. but we were able to capitalize on the young guy that made a couple of mistakes and we took advantage of it."

Alexi Ogando pitched five innings in the start and gave up a run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Joe Ortiz (2-0) tossed two scoreless innings to get his second win of the series.

Jason Bay had two hits and drove in the lone run of the game for the Mariners, who have dropped four of their last five.

Joe Saunders gave up an unearned run on three hits over seven innings. Carter Capps (0-1) was tagged for two runs in an inning of work to pick up his first career loss.

"I felt bad we couldn't scratch a couple across for Saunders," said Seattle catcher Kelly Shoppach. "We had opportunities early in the game to get some runs, really throughout the game we had some chances to get some runs and couldn't cash them in. Joe did well enough to win tonight, but we couldn't get enough for him."

Texas was 10-9 against the Mariners last season.