Mariners 7, Royals 4

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SEATTLE (AP)—Seattle Mariners manager Bob Melvin thinks he’s got the best defensive team in baseball—and he has plenty of support in the clubhouse.

Randy Winn hit a two-run homer, and Bret Boone and Mike Cameron doubled off the wall as Seattle scored four times in the eighth inning to beat the Kansas City Royals 7-4 on Tuesday night.

The Mariners won with flashy defense, too.

Winn, an All-Star last season for Tampa Bay, made a sliding catch in left on Relaford’s liner in the second, a basket catch on Mike Sweeney’s hard-hit fly in the fourth and got Relaford again on a sliding, backhanded catch in the sixth.

“I’ve said it all along. This is the best defensive team I’ve ever seen,” Boone said.

Ichiro Suzuki made another great play, nailing Sweeney at second in the eighth after he singled to the right-field corner and tried to stretch it to a double with the tied at 3.

“Those are big plays,” Melvin said. “I’ll match us up against anybody.”

Boone agreed, and he should know. The Gold Glove second baseman deftly backhanded a tricky grounder by Sweeney in the sixth and was asked if this game was the best defensive performance by a team he’d ever seen.

“That was right up there,” Boone said. “One of the best.”

Winn and Cameron each hit the first pitch they saw from rookie reliever D.J. Carrasco (3-2). So did Edgar Martinez, who singled in Boone to break the tie.

“When a guy’s in scoring position, all you’re trying to do is get a pitch you can hit early in the count,” Cameron said. “You just want to give yourself the best opportunities.”

Jeff Nelson (3-0) pitched the eighth for the Mariners, who won their fifth straight and improved the best record in the American League to 29-15.

Boone hit a 2-0 pitch off the wall in right, and Martinez drove him home to make it 4-3. Cameron added a double off the center-field wall, driving in pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist, and went to third on a throwing error.

Winn drove the next pitch an estimated 397 feet to right field, making it 7-3.

Afterward, however, much of the focus was on how Suzuki—another Gold Glove winner—got the offensive momentum started by nabbing Sweeney at second with his fabulous throw.

“I think I can contribute from both sides, defensively and offensively,” Suzuki said through an interpreter.

And that’s just fine with Melvin.

“That really carried over to the next inning. … Even when he doesn’t hit, he does it with his arm,” Melvin said.

The Royals added a run in the ninth on Desi Relaford’s RBI double off Arthur Rhodes.

Carrasco had not allowed an earned run in 11 innings. He went 1 1-3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits.

“I thought I made some good pitches but they hit the ball really well,” Carrasco said. “They were aggressive when I came in and they got the job done.”

The Royals trailed 3-0 after three innings but climbed back into it with the help of two homers by Raul Ibanez off Mariners starter Ryan Franklin. It was the second career two-homer game for Ibanez, who did it last July 2 at Safeco Field.

“Ibanez can hit anywhere,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “This guy is for real.”

Royals starter Darrell May was a game-day replacement for Runelvys Hernandez, who was scratched to rest a sore right elbow. May, a lefty, went 5 1-3 innings, giving up three runs and six hits with six strikeouts and twowalks.

Notes

Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching Wilson’s team high for the season. … May made his seventh start, but his previous two appearances were in relief. … RHP Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who relieved in the seventh for Seattle, hasn’t allowed a run in 11 games. … The roof was closed because of a daylong drizzle, the fourth time in 23 home games it was closed for the whole game. … Pena announced changes in the pitching rotation, going with LHP Chris George (4-3) on Wednesday and LHP Jeremy Affeldt on Thursday.Seattle is 14-4 against left-handed starters.

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