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Rangers kick off series with Mariners

The Texas Rangers try to maintain the top spot in the American League West on Friday when they begin a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Texas trailed Oakland by six games as late as July 29, but has gone 14-2 since and heads into this weekend 1 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics. The Rangers won for the ninth time in 10 chances on Wednesday, as Ian Kinsler scorched a go-ahead, two-run single as part of a three-run seventh inning in a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Elvis Andrus added a run-scoring single in the rally and finished with two RBI, while Jason Frasor (4-2) held the Brewers off the board in the seventh to earn the victory. Joe Nathan then pitched a perfect ninth to nail down his 36th save of the season.

"We never feel like we're out of the game - we play all nine innings," said Kinsler.

Getting the call for the Rangers on Friday will be lefty Derek Holland, who is 9-6 with a 3.07 ERA. Holland did not get a decision on Saturday in Houston, as he allowed three runs and six hits in six innings of a 5-4 win.

Holland is 8-2 lifetime versus the Mariners with a 3.36 ERA in 15 games (11 starts).

Seattle, meanwhile, will counter with Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, who has lost his last two starts. Iwakuma's most recent setback came to Milwaukee on Friday, as he cruised through six scoreless innings, but was hammered for six runs in the seventh inning to fall to 10-6 on the year to go along with a 3.02 ERA.

In seven games (6 starts) against the Rangers Iwakuma is 2-3 with a 4.17 ERA.

Seattle, which lost the final two game of its series to the Tampa Bay Rays and has lost four of six heading into the weekend, has dropped eight of 13 to the Rangers this season.

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