Mariners Can't Finish Off the Rangers : Baseball: Texas beats Seattle, 9-3, forcing a one-game playoff this afternoon in the Kingdome.

From Associated Press

The Seattle Mariners, attempting one of baseball's greatest comebacks, couldn't quite finish it--at least not yet.

Seattle has one more chance to win the AL West, a winner-take-all game with the Angels today in the Kingdome.

The 145th game was forced because the Mariners lost 9-3 to the Texas on Sunday. A few hours later, the Angels beat the Oakland, 6-2, leaving both teams at 78-66.

"It will be nice to win it in front of the home folks," Mariner Manager Lou Piniella said. "We've got a darn good pitcher and a team that plays darn good baseball. We're still in great shape."

Seattle will send Randy Johnson (17-2) against Mark Langston (15-6). Seattle won a coin flip last month for the right to play host.

"The beer tastes better at our place anyway," Mariner outfielder Vince Coleman said. "We look forward to clinching at home. We play well there. We'll be hyped."

The winner of that game will travel to New York for a best-of-5 first-round series against the Yankees, who won the wild-card spot with a 79-65 record.

A loss for Seattle on Monday would make it 19 straight years without the postseason for the franchise. It would be especially devastating because the Mariners overcame the midseason loss of Ken Griffey Jr. and still fought back.

The Mariners turned what had been a 13-game deficit on Aug. 2 into a three-game lead with five to play. As of Friday, they were up by two with two to play; they then lost 9-2 Saturday and by nearly the same score Sunday.

The consecutive losses were the first since Sept. 6-7. Seattle still is on a roll of having won nine of its last 12, 13 of 17 and 16 of 21.

It was somewhat surprising that Texas would be the spoilers. The Rangers had lost 15 of their previous 16 against the Mariners before the consecutive victories to close the season.

Best of all for Texas, the two season-ending victories meant Seattle has to ship back home the champagne and T-shirts proclaiming them AL West champs.

"We were hoping that wouldn't happen here," said Texas' Otis Nixon. "We were going to play as hard as we could and not lay down. Now they have to go back and see if they can take it in their own city."

Seattle never put itself in position to win Sunday. Tim Belcher (10-12) gave up a three-run home run to Mickey Tettleton in the first. The Rangers increased their lead to 5-1 after four and 7-1 after five.

Seattle closed to 7-3 following a two-run homer by Mike Blowers in the sixth, but Texas answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Mariners' first run was a solo homer by Jay Buhner in the second.

Kenny Rogers (17-7) started on three days' rest and allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. Matt Whiteside finished for his third save.

The Rangers finished the season 74-70, third in the AL West and second to the Yankees in the wild card. If Seattle beats the Angels, Texas will be the only AL team never to make the playoffs.

"We don't have to hold our heads down about anything," Nixon said. "We have a lot of heart in this room. That took us a long way, but we just came up a little short."

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