Mariners 2, Twins 1

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SEATTLE (AP)—Freddy Garcia has mastered his slider, and now he’s finally got a satisfying victory to go with it.

Garcia got his first win of the season in his sixth start and the Seattle Mariners scrapped their way to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.

Garcia (1-1) outpitched Brad Radke in another fine performance. The right-hander threw seven strong innings, holding the Twins to one run on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk.

“I’m glad this one is over,” Garcia said. “I got my first win this year and I’m really happy. They’re a good team.”

Through his first five starts, Garcia received only seven runs of support. But he improved to 4-0 lifetime against Minnesota and lowered his ERA to 2.11— third-best in the American League.

The key this season has been a slider that Garcia is throwing in spots when he used to rely on his curve. The slider gives him a fourth option, adding another dimension to his pitching.

“He can backdoor it. He can backleg it. He can throw it for a strike when he’s behind in the count,” pitching coach Bryan Price said. “He can throw it over the plate for a strikeout against a right-hander. He can change speeds on it. It’s really been a special pitch for him.”

Garcia also got himself out of jams in the fifth, getting Corey Koskie to ground out, and in the seventh, when he got Cristian Guzman looking at a called third strike.

“When I walked into spring training, I tried to work more on concentrating and doing what I know I can do, just trying to stay calm and throw strikes,” Garcia said. “That’s the way I want to pitch.”

Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect ninth against his former team for his fifth save in seven chances.

“I saw Torii (Hunter) smirking and I heard Jacque (Jones) chapping his lips over there,” said Guardado, who spent 11 seasons in Minnesota. “Those guys have a lot of fun. I was just trying to get my job done.”

Seattle (11-17) also came away with its third series victory of the year and second straight after taking two of three from the Twins.

“That’s huge,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s what we’re talking about. I don’t want us feeling like we have to win five or six games in a row. We can win series.”

The Mariners rallied in eight of their 11 wins, and this one was no different.

Seattle took a 2-1 lead in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs against Juan Rincon (4-2). Pinch-runner Quinton McCracken, on base after Edgar Martinez’s leadoff single, scored when Dan Wilson grounded into a double play.

“I’ll take it,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to find ways to win, and fortunately that’s what we did tonight. We need to get some confidence from taking a couple of series now and try to get our offense rolling.”

Rincon caused his own troubles in pitching two-thirds of an inning. He gave up the hit to Martinez and walked John Olerud, then bobbled Rich Aurilia’s sacrifice bunt for an error that loaded the bases.

“He didn’t hear where he was going to have to throw the ball, but the bottom line is all we talk about is getting an out,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was trying to extend and do too much.”

Shannon Stewart put the Twins up 1-0 in the third with a double that scored Luis Rivas, who also doubled.

It was the first run Garcia has allowed at home, ending a 15-inning scoreless streak.

Seattle tied it at 1 in the sixth on Bret Boone’s two-out RBI single to center. Ichiro Suzuki hit a one-out single and stole second when Scott Spiezio struck out swinging.

Radke was solid for six innings, allowing one run and four hits. He held Seattle to two singles through five innings but turned it over to Rincon afterreaching 100 pitches.

Notes

Seattle has maintained the lead from the first inning only once all season, a 12-2 win at Detroit last Sunday. … Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Twins 1B Jose Offerman went 0-for-4, leaving him one hit from 1,500. … Suzuki’s stolen base in the sixth was only Seattle’s 13th of the season. He improved to 6-of-9. … It was the eighth time in 27 games the Twins have scored fewer than three runs. They are1-7 in those games.

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