SEATTLE -- The Rangers road trip is off to an interesting start. For the second straight night, the Rangers pulled one out in the top of the ninth.
Leonys Martin smacked a two-out single to drive home Luis Sardinas and the Rangers held on for a 4-3 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night at Safeco Field. The Rangers have now won three straight to move back to the .500 mark and into a tie with the Mariners for third place in the American League West.
"You could say this is a big lift for us," outfielder Alex Rios said.
"Two tight games and we ended up getting the win, that's an amazing way to start this road trip … with two wins like this," closer Joakim Soria said after earning his 15th save. "Any kind of a win is good as long as we end up winning the game."
Sardinas, making his second start at shortstop, had a key error in the seventh inning that helped the Mariners tie the game. But he made up for it with a one-out single in the ninth off of Mariners closer Fernando Rodney.
"The error is part of the game, I can't let that bother me," Sardinas said. "I had to stay focused."
Sardinas went to second as Rougned Odor hit a slow chopper back to the mound that left Rodney with only a play at first base. That put Sardinas in scoring position for Martin, who grounded a single down the third-base line to put the Rangers in front.
"These guys don't quit," manager Ron Washington said. "They keep playing the game no matter what happens. It was a battle the whole night. We fought for our at-bats and if you put the ball in play, good things will happen."
Joe Saunders is still looking for his first win as a Rangers starter but he did hold the Mariners to two runs in six innings. He allowed eight hits and struck out three while throwing 95 pitches.
"It was a good win for us," Saunders said. "It was a battle for both sides. It was just a matter of when somebody would break through and we did. The team winning is Goal One."
Rangers pitchers had not allowed a run in 19 consecutive innings coming into the game and Saunders added four more to the streak. The Mariners finally ended the streak in the fifth inning as John Buck led off with a single, went to third on a single by Kyle Seager and scored on Stefen Romero's sacrifice fly.
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez threw five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and four walks. He left after throwing 89 pitches and the Rangers struck immediately for three runs against Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar in the sixth. Adrian Beltre doubled home one run and Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run home run.
"We won, that's what is important," Chirinos said. "If I had done all that stuff and we lost the game, it wouldn't have meant anything. But we won and I did my little bit."
Saunders ran into more trouble in sixth, giving up one-out singles to Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero. He struck out Logan Morrison before Buck lined a single to center. Cano tried to score from second and Martin made a strong throw from center field, but it was to the first-base side of home plate. Chirinos caught the ball, then dove for Cano as he tried to slide around the tag.
Home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez signaled safe and, after a challenge by Washington, his call was upheld by replay. Saunders then got out of the inning with a one-run lead by striking out Seager.
The Mariners tied it the next inning. Shawn Tolleson took over and gave up a pair of one-out singles to Bloomquist and James Jones. Gillespie then hit a double-play grounder to Odor at second base, but the Rangers failed to turn it as Sardinas dropped the relay throw.
That left the bases loaded. Left-hander Neal Cotts took over and Cano lined a single to right to drive home the tying run. But Cotts kept the game tied by getting Dustin Ackley on a popup and striking out Morrison.
Cotts also struck out the side in the eighth, putting him in position to get the win when the Rangers regained the lead in the ninth.
"Neal played a big role in the win," Washington said. "The bullpen was outstanding tonight. Even Tolleson did what he had to do. He got the ground ball, we just couldn't finish it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.