Nippert, Francisco pitch Rangers past MarinersSep 3, 2008 - 9:41 PM ARLINGTON, Texas (Ticker) -- Perhaps the Texas Rangers should consider making Dustin Nippert and Frank Francisco permanent fixtures on their pitching staff.
Nippert logged a career-high seven innings to record his first win as a starter in nearly three years and Francisco converted his third save in four days as the Rangers posted a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday afternoon.
A former top prospect with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the 27-year-old Nippert has been used primarily as a starter over the last two seasons.
But with Vicente Padilla sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Rangers have inserted Nippert (2-4) into their rotation. Padilla, who has a team-high 12 wins this season, is eligible to come off the disabled list next Tuesday.
But Rangers manager Ron Washington apparently has been impressed with Nippert.
"When (Nippert) gets time to prepare, he's getting his pitches in the right spot," Washington said. "He'll get the ball again until Padilla's ready."
After struggling in his previous two starts, the 6-8 Nippert was terrific in this contest, allowing seven hits without walking a batter and striking out four. The righthander threw 68 of 99 pitches for strikes.
"Down in (the minors), my last four or five starts I just felt good," he said. "I was able to get strike one, and my offspeed pitch, I was able to command it. Ever since, I've been able to get guys out."
"(Nippert) had a good day," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman added. "He's pitched better of late since he's been in the rotation, and maybe it's somebody we have to deal with next week."
Nippert won for the first time since April 16 - when he pitched one inning - and recorded his first win as a starter since September 29, 2005 - when he worked five one-run innings for the Diamondbacks.
"It was in 2005, my last start, against the Dodgers," Nippert said. "I have not really been thinking about when I would win another. I'm not trying to focus on results, just make my pitches."
Francisco, known best for his infamous chair-throwing incident in Oakland four years ago, became the Rangers' de facto closer last week when Eddie Guardado was traded to the Minnesota Twins.
A setup man for most of the year, Francisco clearly has adapted well to his new role. The righthander has recorded saves in each of his last four outings, allowing only one baserunner over that stretch.
Francisco worked a perfect ninth inning Wednesday and received some defensive help from left fielder Marlon Byrd, who made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Yuniesky Betancourt for the second out.
"I was 0-for-the series, so I had to make a catch or two," Byrd said. "The ball hung up a little bit. When it came off the bat, I thought it was going to be off the wall. I was able to get my feet set so I could catch the ball at its highest point."
"When he hit it - you never know what's going to happen in this ballpark, so I held my breath," Nippert said.
Francisco, however, was not worried about Betancourt's drive.
"I know how the ball can carry here, but I thought it would be a double," he said. "I didn't think it was going to go out."
The exploits of Nippert and Francisco overshadowed a nice outing by Mariners starter Felix Hernandez (9-9), who yielded one run, seven hits and one walk in seven innings.
"(Hernandez) has had some real good games that he didn't win, that's for sure," Riggleman said. "He's a much better pitcher than 9-9.''
The Rangers accounted for the game's only run in the first inning, when Michael Young singled with one out, advanced to second on Josh Hamilton's double and scored on Milton Bradley's sacrifice fly.
Hamilton had three hits while rookie Chris Davis ripped a pair of doubles for the Rangers, who won the rubber game of this three-game series.
Adrian Beltre and Raul Ibanez both had two hits for the Mariners, who fell to 7-10 against Texas this season.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
SEATTLE 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
TEXAS 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 1 8 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: SEA - FELIX HERNANDEZ, JAKE WOODS (8TH), MIGUEL BATISTA (8TH) AND
TEX - DUSTIN NIPPERT, WARNER MADRIGAL (8TH), FRANK
FRANCISCO (9TH) AND TAYLOR TEAGARD
Sep 3 4:17 PM
AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
SACRIFICE FLY BY MILTON BRADLEY SCORED MICHAEL YOUNG.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J HAMILTON ON SECOND, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 0
TEXAS 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
DUE UP FOR TEXAS: H BLALOCK (.269, 4 HR, 17 RBI)
Mariners 0, Rangers 1 Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 3 2:18 PM
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