SEATTLE -- Rangers starter Matt Harrison picked up a well-deserved victory on Tuesday night and closer Joe Nathan earned his 10th save.Mike Adams? He got a "hold," and this was the very definition of that nebulous contrived statistic that's supposed to measure the effectiveness of setup relievers. Rangers manager Ron Washington, though, had his own unit of measurement in describing Adams' effectiveness on a cold night at Safeco Field. "He was awesome, wasn't he?" Washington said. That certainly sums it up better. Adams, asked to protect a two-run lead, entered the game with two on and nobody out, and retired three straight hitters to help preserve the Rangers' 3-1 victory over the Mariners. Nathan retired the side in order in the ninth to finish it off, but this was a night when Adams reinforced the Rangers' confidence in him. "Mike has been big for us since the day we traded for him," designated hitter Michael Young said. "The eighth inning is important and we've got one of the best in the business handling it. He did a great job tonight." Adams did his work after spending the past week battling a persistent respiratory infection that at times left him unavailable to pitch. He was able to answer the call resoundingly on Tuesday. "I feel it's better, a lot better than the last week and a half," Adams said. "I didn't see that as a problem tonight. I'm glad it's behind me." The Rangers won despite finishing with a season-low four hits. Mariners pitcher Hector Noesi gave the Rangers only one serious opportunity, and they took advantage of it. Noesi walked his only two batters in the third inning, and the Rangers made it hurt with two outs. Elvis Andrus crushed a hanging breaking ball into left-center for a two-run triple and Josh Hamilton followed with an RBI double. That was all the runs the Rangers would need as their 15-game streak with at least one home run came to an end. "We got a 'W,' that's what matters," Andrus said. "We got it done, so it was a good night." The Rangers were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position while the Mariners were 1-for-9. That was a testament to both Adams and Harrison, who survived a 35-pitch first inning to make it into the eighth. Harrison started the game by getting Dustin Ackley on a grounder to first. Alex Liddi then drew a nine-pitch walk and Ichiro Suzuki bounced a single through the right side, putting runners at the corners. Harrison struck out Jesus Montero, but Justin Smoak lined a single through the left side to bring home a run. Kyle Seager walked to load the bases. That brought up Casper Wells, who hit a drive to deep left-center, where Hamilton ran the ball down at the wall for the out. "My defense was making play after play behind me tonight," Harrison said. "It definitely wasn't the way I wanted to start the first inning. I felt good going into the game. My arm felt the best it has felt all season. I may have been overthrowing. I needed to settle down and pound the strike zone." He did and retired the next 17 of 21 batters through the seventh inning. "I thought he did a tremendous job," Washington said. "They fought him in the first inning and got his pitch count up. After that, he started pounding the strike zone and making them swing the bat. I hope he understands what it takes to get deep in the game." Harrison, now 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA, was pitching so well that Washington sent him out for the eighth inning. But he allowed leadoff singles to Liddi and Ichiro, and that's when Washington brought in Adams to face the Nos. 4-5-6 hitters for the Mariners. Montero went down quickly, flying out to right on a 1-1 curveball. Smoak and Seager, a pair of left-handed hitters, weren't so easy. Both worked the count full. But Adams got both to swing and miss at fastballs tailing away from them for two big strikeouts. "I felt like we got a little anxious with two strikes at the end, that's what really stuck out to me," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We want our guys up there ready to hit, and they are, but I felt like we just expanded a little bit too much with two strikes at the end." That wasn't the end. The Mariners had the ninth, and Nathan was able to retire the bottom of the order quickly to end the game. However, maybe when you have two on and nobody out in the eighth with the heart of the order coming up and fail to score ... perhaps that really is the end. Or it's just another hold for the Rangers' primary setup reliever. "I don't keep track of my stats," Adams said. "I go by how I've been throwing, and the last few outings I feel I've been throwing the ball well." He did so on Tuesday night in the biggest moment of the game.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.