SEATTLE — Sometime after the fifth inning, Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux walked over to C.J. Wilson and asked how he was feeling.
The response from Wilson was blunt: “I’m finishing this game.”
After seeing the Texas bullpen blow two straight games, Wilson wasn’t about to leave this one to chance.
Wilson matched his career high with 12 strikeouts in a six-hitter, and Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis hit solo homers off Seattle rookie Michael Pineda as the Rangers beat the Mariners 5-2 on Wednesday night.
“For me it’s more surgical. That’s the way I try to pitch. That’s the way I always try to pitch,” Wilson said.
Wilson (4-1) was good early, but was dominant for the final five innings. Wilson retired the final 14 batters and 18 of the last 19. He also managed a pitch-count that in the middle innings was quickly rising toward an early exit.
Wilson ended up throwing a season-high 125 pitches, but only 38 came in the final four innings. He allowed one earned run, walked one and didn’t allow a baserunner after Chone Figgins’ single with one out in the fifth.
And just when it looked like Wilson might be done after the eighth, he jogged back out for the ninth. Manager Ron Washington, having watched his relievers blow the last two games, wasn’t considering a pitching change unless the Mariners got a runner on in the ninth.
There wasn’t any need to worry. Wilson got Justin Smoak to hit a liner to second, struck out Jack Cust for the third time on the night, and got a grounder from Jack Wilson to close out the fourth complete game of his career.
In seven starts this season, Wilson has 46 strikeouts versus just 13 walks, nearly reversing his trend from a year ago when he walked 93 batters for the year.
“I’ve seen him throw better games, but we certainly needed him to throw his best tonight,” Washington said. “He was very efficient.”
Pineda, the AL rookie of the month for April, saw his run of five straight quality starts to begin his career end when Davis hit a 400-foot shot to nearly the same spot in the park as Moreland’s homer two innings earlier.
Moreland jumped on the first pitch of the fifth inning for his fourth homer of the season. It was the only RBI the Rangers got off Pineda (4-2) that came with less than two outs.
“Especially in a game like tonight when runs are going to be tough to come by because you have two guys throwing who are on, RBIs with two outs or key situations that kind of jump starts an offense and kind of gives you a little confidence,” Moreland said.
Pineda matched his season high with nine strikeouts and was remarkable efficient, throwing first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 27 batters he faced. Of his 97 pitches, 77 were for strikes.
He allowed seven hits and walked none facing the Rangers for the second time this season.
Texas scored two in the first after the inning almost ended without any damage. With two outs, Adrian Beltre’s drive into the right-field corner eluded Ichiro Suzuki, and it went for an RBI double when Elvis Andrus ran through a stop sign at third. David Murphy followed with a single to score Beltre.
The Rangers added to their lead in the eighth when reliever Chris Ray continued his season of inconsistency. Having not pitched since April 23, Ray walked Ian Kinsler to start the inning. Kinsler later scored when Ray’s wild pitch skipped off Miguel Olivo’s glove.
“We need some big hits in some big situations, especially with Pineda out there. that kid is something special,” Washington said. “We rose to the occasion.”
Texas optioned RHP Pedro Strop to Triple-A Round Rock and recalled RHP Mark Lowe before Wednesday’s game. Strop gave up three runs in one inning of relief in Tuesday night’s loss.