Murphy homers again, Hunter back on track as first-place Rangers roll Mariners 6-0

David Murphy hit his second go-ahead home run in two nights, this one to break through against Felix Hernandez, and Tommy Hunter resumed his excellence as the Texas Rangers cruised to a 6-0 victory over the dreadful Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.

Murphy drove in the game's first two runs with his seventh homer of the season in the sixth. And Hunter pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings against the worst offensive team in the major leagues to up the Rangers' lead in the AL West to a season high-tying 8½ games over the idle Athletics.

The Rangers, who also welcomed the news that they were approved Thursday to exit bankruptcy following the auction of the franchise the night before, begin a three-game series at Oakland on Friday.

Hunter (9-1) lost for the first time this season in his previous start, allowing eight runs at the Angels. That was five more runs than he'd allowed in any of his first 10 starts after debuting on June 5.

Hernandez (7-9) lost his forth consecutive decision — even though his ERA remained steady at 2.94, sixth-lowest in the AL.

An example of how that oddity has happened: Seattle's Russell Branyan and Franklin Gutierrez singled to begin the sixth. But then baseball's worst offensive by nearly all statistical measures got in succession a pop up by Jose Lopez, a fielder's choice grounder by Adam Moore, a pop out by Michael Saunders — and the latest in a season-long chorus of boos.

Embattled manager Don Wakamatsu just stared and then walked back down into the dugout without an expression over another opportunity lost.

Seattle finished 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, stranding 10 baserunners.

Then it got worse. Following a single by Vladimir Guerrero to begin the seventh, Murphy drilled a 95 mph, first-pitch fastball deep to left field. Saunders ran back, looked and turned, then slammed into the wall with his right shoulder while trying to track the ball. The impact jarred Saunders from extending his glove as the ball went over it and the top of the wall for a 2-0 lead for Texas.

Hernandez then walked Mitch Moreland and allowed singles to No. 9-hitter Andres Blanco and Elvis Andrus, the latter on a grounder up the middle. That scored Moreland and ended Hernandez's night.

Seattle's $78 million ace allowed eight hits with those three runs in 6 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out three, tying a season low.

Such a rally is often all that is needed to subdue these Mariners. Seattle scored fewer than three runs for the 51st time in 109 games this season.

That helps explain its 40-69 record and its deficit to the Rangers in the division of 23½ games.

The lone Seattle bright spot: Franchise cornerstone Ichiro Suzuki caught a fly out near the right-field line in the second inning. He then let his momentum carry him to the railing of box seats, where he handed the ball to a stunned, grade school-aged boy. The boy raised the ball and his other hand in the air triumphantly, turned to the rest of the crowd and held his mouth agape, amazed at his souvenir delivered by a superstar.

NOTES: Suzuki had two doubles to pass Hall-of-Famer Pee Wee Reese for 181st all-time in hits. Suzuki has 2,171 hits in 10 seasons. Reese had 2,170 in 19 years, ending in 1958. ... Texas RHP Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless eighth and now has 23 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 25 appearances. That's the longest active scoreless streak in the majors.