Yu Darvish did his part in the first of six straight games at home for the Texas Rangers against the two teams chasing them in the AL West.
Now it's Cole Hamels' turn.
Darvish struck out nine in 6⅔ innings and Carlos Beltran homered among three hits, helping the Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 6-3 on Monday night.
The American League-leading Rangers dropped the Mariners into third place, a game behind Houston and 9.5 back of Texas.
For the ninth straight time since the All-Star break, the lefty Hamels will follow Darvish in the rotation Tuesday night. The Rangers are 11-6 in those starts with five straight wins.
"I think it's huge to have your one and two going back-to-back," manager Jeff Banister said. "Yu set the table tonight with what he was capable of doing, really keeping their hitters off balance. It's a big plus to have those two guys at the front of the rotation for us."
Darvish (5-3) easily outpitched fellow Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma for his third straight win, leaving to a standing ovation with a 6-1 lead in the seventh after throwing 110 pitches, the most since his return from Tommy John surgery.
The latest news from around North Texas.
The Mariners tagged Darvish for two runs on Franklin Gutierrez's double off reliever Jake Diekman before Keone Kela struck out Nelson Cruz as the potential tying run.
Sam Dyson struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 30th save, giving Texas 13 strikeouts.
Seattle has lost six of seven and been held to one or no runs by CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees and Carlos Rodon of the White Sox. The lone win in that stretch — a 3-1 victory — came despite 14 strikeouts from Chicago ace Chris Sale, and thanks to Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
"It's very good pitching. What are you going to say?" Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "When you catch the guys how we're catching the rotations right now, it's just where we're at. We've just got to continue to grind and hang in there."
Beltran had a solo homer in the first and a double that was one of three straight run-scoring extra-base hits in a four-run third against Iwakuma (14-10), who lost his third straight start while matching his shortest outing of the season at three innings.
Iwakuma allowed a season-high five runs for the fourth time.
Two days removed from ending a career-worst 0-for-32 skid, Beltran had at least three hits for the first time since getting four against Oakland on Aug. 16, the day before the slump started.
It was the third time Darvish and Iwakuma have faced each other in the majors, and Darvish has two wins. The Rangers have won his last five starts after losing the previous five straight.
Which Way's Up?
Adrian Beltre jokingly turned his helmet backward as he came to the plate to face ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte in the fifth, drawing a big grin from the Seattle reliever. But Beltre doesn't seem to mind facing him. The 37-year-old had his second double in two career at-bats against Venditte.
Seattle center fielder Leonys Martin, playing in his old home park, took a home run away from Ian Desmond with a leaping catch above the wall in right-center in the seventh. ... Carlos Gomez struck out three times and is 0 for 18 with 10 strikeouts since homering in his first at-bat for Texas. ... Mike Zunino had four strikeouts, three against Darvish. ... The Rangers released OF Drew Stubbs, who rejected an assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.
Rangers: The scheduled rehab start for RHP Colby Lewis (right lat muscle strain) with Double-A Frisco at Midland was rained out. He is likely to start Tuesday night in Frisco.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (14-4, 2.67) is tied with Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi for the lowest ERA among AL starters since the All-Star break at 1.59.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (4-5, 3.63 ERA) makes his second start since returning from a left elbow injury after getting struck by a line drive.