SEATTLE -- The picture of a baseball leaving his hand, sailing over the second baseman's head and landing in center field was a difficult thing for Mariners closer David Aardsma to get out of his mind.

He uncorked the mother of wild throws trying to nail White Sox third baseman Omar Vizquel, who had walked and prematurely ran to second base when Aardsma was in his stretch. The pitcher turned, saw Vizquel stop in his tracks, and made a really high throw to second base.

And so, when Aardsma began the ninth inning against the Rangers on Wednesday night with a one-run lead, he knew the best way to prevent something like that happening again was not to let anyone reach base.

"I was mad at myself the other day," he said. "If something like that happens [Wednesday night], it might be a difference between walking off shaking hands or walking off with our heads down."

Aardsma did well for someone who had not pitched in a save situation since July 25 and only twice since June 22. He retired all three Rangers he faced for his 19th save in 23 chances this season.

"I like to think that every outing is a save situation," he said. "I am going out there with the same approach, no matter what the score is. Obviously, you know the score, but how you throw shouldn't matter."

Seattle starters end drought

SEATTLE -- The Mariners had five starting pitchers win at least one game before the All-Star break and now they finally have one win a game since the Midsummer Classic.

Left-hander Jason Vargas ended the starters' drought on Tuesday night, going six inning in the Mariners' 3-2 victory over the Rangers at Safeco Field.

Prior to Vargas' seventh win of the season, ace right-hander Felix Hernandez had been the most recent rotation winner, beating the Yankees on July 10.

The starters were 0-12 during the next 19 games despite recording seven quality starts -- three or fewer earned runs over six innings.

The famine notwithstanding, Seattle's starters have the third-best ERA in the American League at 3.85.

Worth noting

Mariners left fielder Michael Saunders needs two more home runs to become the 11th rookie in franchise history to hit at least 10. ... Catcher Josh Bard was limited to "emergency" duty on Wednesday night because of neck stiffness. He could miss another game or two before being ready to go. ... Reliever Shawn Kelley will pitch two innings in a rehab outing at Everett on Thursday and his comeback status will be reevaluated afterward. ... The sacrifice bunt and home run Franklin Gutierrez had in Tuesday night's win was only the fifth time in franchise history a player had an RBI with a sac bunt and hit a home run in the same game -- the second time he's done it. The others are Jamie Burke (Sept. 30, 2007), Rey Quinnones (Oct. 1, 1988) and Henry Cotto (Aug. 24, 1988).