In Ron Washington's view, Texas pitcher Scott Feldman did an adequate job making a fill-in start after Neftali Feliz ended up on the disabled list and the Rangers were left with limited options.
Except for one poorly placed pitch from Feldman that led to four runs.
"We wanted a sinker so we can keep it on the ground," Washington said. "It didn't go on the ground; the ball left the park."
Seattle's Alex Liddi hit the first major league grand slam by an Italian-born player in half-century, Kevin Millwood threw six shutout innings and the Mariners took two of three from AL West-leading Texas with a 5-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday.
Liddi made Washington pay for the decision to pitch around Dustin Ackley with one out in the fifth inning. Ackley was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Liddi lined the first pitch from Feldman (0-2) just over the yellow line on top of the left-field wall for his third homer this season.
Afterward, Liddi couldn't stop grinning and understandably so after making the first curtain call of his career.
"Obviously big-time guys do it and when you have to do it a good thing," Liddi said.
Texas made it interesting breaking up the shutout with Josh Hamilton's RBI double and Adrian Beltre's two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. But Brandon League rebounded from some shaky recent outings and shut down the Rangers in the ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.
At least the Rangers can take away they continued to avoid being shutout, although they were twice on the verge of that happening during the series. Texas got a late homer from Mitch Moreland in the series-opening 6-1 loss, then got Hamilton's RBI double and Beltre's two-run shot in the eighth inning on Wednesday.
Still, it wasn't a banner offensive series for Texas. In five of seven games against Seattle this season, the top offense in baseball has been held to three or fewer runs.
And on Wednesday it was a familiar face shutting them down.
"Millwood's been pitching a long time. He doesn't have the velocity he used to have, but he certainly has a lot of intelligence out there and he used it today," Washington said.
Millwood silenced yet another former team, and holding the top offense in baseball to just three hits might have been more impressive than his complete-game effort against the Rockies. Millwood has gone 17 straight innings without allowing a run. Dating back to a three-run second inning against Detroit on May 8, Millwood has given up just one run in his last 25 innings. The 17 straight scoreless innings is the second-longest streak of his career.
And he had to do some impressive pitching to keep that streak going against the Rangers, twice stranding runners at third base. Millwood struck out two and walked one in picking up his third straight victory following a 0-4 start.
"The biggest thing was just confidence has been building for the last couple of weeks so I felt like when I got out there it just felt like I was going to have a good game and throw the ball well," Millwood said. "When I missed guys made good plays or they just fouled it off. Confidence goes a long ways in this game."
Feldman's biggest problem was his control. Making his third start of the season, Feldman tied a career-high with five walks in 4 1-3 innings. He walked the bases loaded to open the second inning and Seattle took a 1-0 lead without a hit thanks to Michael Saunders' sacrifice fly.
"Walking that many guys, I was kind of dodging bullets the whole day," Feldman said. "Then finally they got me in the fifth there, it finally caught up with me."
Saunders opened the fifth with a walk and Mike Carp followed with a bloop single that fell into shallow left and just out of the reach of shortstop Elvis Andrus. Saunders and Carp advanced 90 feet when Ian Kinsler failed to catch Feldman's pickoff attempt at second base, but held as Brendan Ryan grounded out to shortstop with the infield playing in.
Ackley was walked intentionally to bring up Liddi. Given a high fastball to start the at-bat, Liddi turned on the pitch, lining it down the left-field line and barely clearing the hand-operated scoreboard. Liddi's slam was just the second in major league history by an Italian born player. Reno Bertoia hit a grand slam on May 7, 1958, for Detroit against Washington.
"I was trying to go down and in and maybe get him to roll over and it was up," Feldman said.
NOTES: Liddi's grand slam was the second this season for Seattle. Saunders hit a grand slam earlier this month in Toronto. ... The Rangers had won five straight road series vs. AL West foes. ... Millwood was 0-2 with a 10.05 ERA in three starts at Safeco Field this season coming in to Wednesday.