Rangers go for sweep of struggling Mariners

The Texas Rangers aim to extend the Seattle Mariners' offensive struggles for another game on Sunday afternoon when they go for a sweep of a three-game series in Arlington.

The Rangers have shut out the Mariners in the first two games of this series, winning Friday's opener 7-0 before getting an excellent effort from their bullpen in Saturday's 5-0 victory.

Nick Tepesch made the start for Texas, but had to come out after 1 2/3 innings as he was hit on the right arm by a line drive off the bat of Seattle's Jesus Montero.

Despite a gash on his arm, Tepesch tried to remain in the game and threw several test pitches before coming out with what was diagnosed as a right wrist contusion.

Derek Lowe came on in relief and hurled four hitless innings, while Joe Ortiz, Tanner Scheppers and Jason Frasor combined to shut out the Mariners over the final 3 1/3 innings.

A.J. Pierzynski and Daniel Murphy both homered, while Lance Berkman drove in two runs as the Rangers won back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game winning streak from April 7-9.

"Our offense didn't do much until late. When our pitching does well like that it takes pressure off the offense and helps us win ball games," Murphy said.

Seattle's offense didn't do anything at all. Seattle has not scored a run in 19 straight innings and has failed to cross the plate in 43 of its last 45 frames. The Mariners have scored just five runs over their past five games, going 1-4 in that span.

"Losing in general is disappointing and not scoring any runs obviously is also," Seattle's Kyle Seager said. "They threw the ball well tonight, and their bullpen did a great job."

Seattle has been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since June 24-25 of last year versus Oakland and on the road for the first time since July 31-Aug. 1, 2010 in Minnesota. The Mariners have never been held scoreless in three straight games.

Rookie Brandon Maurer pitched well in Saturday's defeat, giving up a pair of solo homers over 6 2/3 innings to absorb the loss. Seager, meanwhile, pushed his hitting streak to nine straight games and is batting .333 over that span with six doubles and four RBI.

Texas' Justin Grimm will make his second straight start versus the Mariners on Sunday after his previously scheduled outing versus the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday was rained out.

Grimm went 1-1 with a 9.00 earned run average in five games (2 starts) last season, then made his season debut with the Rangers on April 11 after Matt Harrison landed on the disabled list with a back injury. The 24-year-old righty did not factor into a 4-3 win, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks over four innings.

Facing Seattle for the first time, Grimm gave up a solo homer to Franklin Gutierrez in the first inning and the outfielder plated another run off Grimm the second inning on a fielder's choice.

The Rangers and Mariners split that four-game series and Texas will look for its first three-game sweep of Seattle since Sept. 23-25, 2011 at home.

Looking to settle in after being traded twice in six days earlier this month, Aaron Harang makes his second start of the season for Seattle today.

The 34-year-old spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded him to the Colorado Rockies on April 6. The Rockies then sent Harang to Seattle on April 11 and he made his debut with the Mariners five days later.

Facing the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, Harang took the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits over five innings. He struck out six without a walk and the big blow came when he served up a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the fifth inning.

"Once I got out there and got through that first inning, felt like I was able to get more of a rhythm, but I felt good," said Harang. "I was really pleased with the fact that I didn't have any walks."

Pitching in the American League for the first time since 2003 with Oakland, the right-handed Harang is 1-0 with a 9.35 ERA in four career meetings with Texas.