<
>

Blaylock, Nix both homer, double

SEATTLE (AP) -- Backed by an early lead, Chan Ho Park rewarded
the Texas Rangers with one of his best outings.

Park pitched seven scoreless innings, and Hank Blalock and
Laynce Nix got the Rangers' offense off to a quick start in Texas'
5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners Friday night.

"The early scores helped me a lot," Park said. "I was able to
relax and make good pitches."

Blalock hit a solo homer in the first and an RBI double in the
second, when the Rangers roughed up Mariners starter Gil Meche for
four runs. Nix's two-run homer in the second was a 417-foot shot to
center.

"We jumped on Meche early with five runs," Blalock said.
"That will make it easy on any pitcher. We didn't score any more
after that, but Chan Ho pitched a great game. A shutout is about as
much as we can ask of a pitcher. It was a really nice win."

The Mariners fell to 2-8, matching the 1990 team for worst start
in franchise history. Seattle has dropped all four games at Safeco
Field this season.

"I'm real frustrated," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said.
"There's not one guy in that clubhouse who's not frustrated with
what is going on. It's getting old. It's been old."

Park (1-2) allowed eight hits over seven innings. He struck out
five and walked John Olerud three times. Seattle left 10 runners on
base against Park.

Park was at his best in the fifth after putting runners on first
and second and falling behind in the count to Raul Ibanez 3-0.
After Ibanez hit a long foul ball to bring the count full, Park
struck him out with wicked two-seam fastball.

"That may have been his best pitch of the game," Rangers
manager Buck Showalter said.

Park is trying to regain the form that led the Rangers to sign
him to a big five-year contract in December of 2001. He had a 5.75
ERA in 25 starts in 2002, and was limited to seven starts due to
back problems last season when he went 1-3 with a 7.58 ERA.

"Every guy in this clubhouse is pulling for him because of the
adversity that he's gone through and all the expectations,"
Showalter said. "Chan Ho has a lot of weight on his shoulders. In
it's own way, it was a little emotional to see him go through that
and then have the type of outing that he so richly deserved with
all the work he's done."

While he has struggled since joining the Rangers, Park has
pitched well against Seattle, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.55 ERA
in six starts.

Carlos Almanzar pitched two innings of hitless relief, striking
out the side in the eighth.

Bret Boone and Dan Wilson each had three hits for the Mariners.
Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4, extending his hitless streak 0-for-9.

After allowing a 383-foot homer to Blalock in the first inning,
his third, Meche (0-2) was tagged for four more runs in the second.

With one out, Nix hit the first pitch he saw for a two-run
homer. Then Blalock doubled into the right-center gap to bring home
Gerald Laird, who had singled. Blalock scored on a bloop single by
Alfonso Soriano to push the Rangers' lead to 5-0.

"It was one of those days," Meche said. "You give all the
momentum to the other pitcher and it helped him tremendously."

Meche gave up seven hits and five runs in five innings. He
struck out three and walked one.<
^Notes@: The Mariners have been outscored 17-1 in the second inning
this year... Seattle pitchers have allowed eight home runs in four
home games. ... Before opening their road series in Seattle, the
Rangers' first three hitters, Michael Young, Blalock and Soriano,
hit safely in each game of their seven-game homestand. Blalock and
Soriano each had two hits Friday while Young went 0-for-5. ...
Herbert Perry nearly homered in the fifth inning, but Suzuki went
over the wall to bring it back into play. Suzuki didn't make the
catch and Perry ended up with a double. ... Texas has had 11 or
more hits in seven of its last eight games. ... Laird had his
second three-hit game.<