Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Taijuan Walker got the Seattle Mariners back in the win column with seven strong innings that carried the club to a 3-1 decision over Texas on the night the Rangers officially brought Josh Hamilton back.
The Mariners halted a stretch of four losses in six games behind what was by far Walker's sharpest outing of the young season. The talented young right- hander scattered six hits and walked none while limiting Texas' struggling offense to one unearned run.
Walker (1-2) had been rocked for 15 runs and walked 10 in 12 2/3 innings over his previous three starts of 2015.
"Taijuan just stepped up big and really gave us a good start when we needed it," Mariners shortstop Brad Miller said.
Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith supported Walker with RBI singles and Justin Ruggiano scored a pair of runs for Seattle, which made the most of its five hits.
The opener of this three-game series was overshadowed by the news that the Rangers completed their trade with the Los Angeles Angels to bring back Hamilton, who won the 2010 AL MVP with Texas and led the Rangers to the first of back-to-back World Series appearances that season. The veteran outfielder left the Rangers for the Angels as a free agent in 2013, only to endure a pair of disappointing and injury-plagued seasons in Anaheim.
Hamilton, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is expected to report to extend spring training Tuesday at the Rangers' complex in Arizona.
Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo (2-3) allowed just three hits and struck out five over six innings in Monday's game, but was hurt by three walks that the Mariners turned into each of their runs.
"You always want to put up zeros no matter what," Gallardo said. "We're not swinging the bat the way we are capable of right now but guys are going to hit. Look at that lineup, it is not an easy lineup to face."
Two of those free passes came to the game's first two hitters, Ruggiano and Smith. The latter was erased on a fielder's choice grounder by Robinson Cano, but Cruz shot a single through the right side to knock in a run and Cano scored from second when Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus threw wildly on a potential double-play ball off the bat of Kyle Seager.
Walker made the early lead stand up by continually pounding the strike zone and cruising through the Texas lineup for most of the night. His only inning of trouble came in the fourth, when the Rangers put two on with one out on a walk and an Adrian Beltre single.
Walker appeared to get out of the jam when Andrus grounded to short with two out, but Brad Miller threw the ball away to enable Prince Fielder to cross the plate and bring the Rangers within 2-1.
Gallardo overcame his first-inning control problems, setting down 12 straight after yielding a single to Rickie Weeks that followed Andrus' error. He walked Ruggiano again with two out in the fifth, however, and the outfielder promptly stole second prior to Smith sending him home with a single up the middle.
Texas did threaten Walker again in the seventh, with Rougned Odor's two-out single sending the tying run to third before the Seattle starter induced a harmless fly ball to Robinson Chirinos to keep it a two-run game.
Fernando Rodney worked around Andrus' one-out single in the ninth to notch his fifth save.
The start of the game was delayed for 55 minutes due to rain ... The Rangers have lost four of five and still haven't won back-to-back games this season, the only team other than Milwaukee without a winning streak this season ... Texas outfielder Shin-Soo Choo went 0-for-4 and has just one hit in his last 32 at-bats ... Andrus and Odor each finished with two hits ... All but one of Seattle's 19 games this season have been decided by three or less runs.