Mariners 4, Royals 1
SEATTLE (AP)—After coming down with a bad case of the flu, Raul Ibanez still felt a little weak Monday.
So the veteran changed his approach, much to the Seattle Mariners’ benefit.
Ibanez had three hits, including a two-run single, and Gil Meche allowed one run and four hits in seven innings to lift Seattle to a 4-1 win over Kansas City.
“It’s better for your swing sometimes,” said Ibanez, who was out of the lineup Sunday, breaking a string of 243 consecutive games played. “You try to do less and just get the fat part of the bat on the ball, relax a little bit and not try and do too much and over swing.”
Jose Lopez added a pair of doubles, and his two-out shot off the wall in left in the eighth inning scored Yuniesky Bentancourt to give Seattle a 3-1 lead. Richie Sexson followed with a single to score Lopez.
Meanwhile, Meche broke a two-game losing streak and denied the lowly Royals a chance to finish their longest road trip of the season at .500. Kansas City went 4-6 on its 10-game trip, after winning two of its first 20 road games this season. Seattle took three of four in the series.
“You’ve got to go out and throw strikes, especially against a ball club that’s struggling a little bit,” said Meche, who threw 60 of his 96 pitches for strikes. “It was a game we felt like we should have won.”
In seven of his last nine starts, Meche (5-4) has allowed three earned runs or less. He struck out six and walked two. J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his eighth save in nine attempts.
While Meche was solid, Seattle’s best pitching came from reliever Rafael Soriano in the eighth. Lefty George Sherrill took over for Meche to start the inning, but walked David DeJesus. Soriano entered and struck out Tony Graffanino, Doug Mientkiewicz and Reggie Sanders on 13 pitches. Soriano sprinted off the field, leaping over the first-base line.
“He was outstanding. He got three strikeouts in the heart of their order and was clutch,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said.
Making his second start of the season, Wood looked the part of a seasoned starter, scattering four hits through five innings and allowed only one base runner past first. Ibanez was stranded at third in the second inning.
“He always seems to be able to do what we need to get done,” Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said of Wood. “He did great.”
Seattle finally got to Wood in the sixth and knocked the righty from the game. Ichiro Suzuki doubled on the first pitch of the inning. He was thrown out at third trying to advance on Adrian Beltre’s grounder to short, but Lopez followed with a double to left, and Bell pulled Wood.
Lefty Jimmy Gobble entered to face the left-handed Ibanez. Gobble fell behind 3-1 before Ibanez grounded a single to center scoring Beltre and Lopez. Left-handers had been hitting .176 against Gobble.
Ibanez called how he felt on Sunday “brutal.” He singled in the second and fourth as well.
“Sometimes it works out that way,” Ibanez said. “You feel weak and you try to do less.”
The Royals put together a brief rally in the seventh, with consecutive singles by Matt Stairs and Shane Costa. Stairs scored on Mark Teahen’s groundout to second—a sliding stop by Lopez—and Meche got out of the inning with a pop out by Angel Berroa and a strikeout of John Buck.
Despite the loss, the Royals believe the road trip overall was a positive step.
“Things are getting better,” Sanders said. “We are trying to figure out how to turn this thing around. It’s coming. Things are headed in the right direction.”
Suzuki was selected American League player of the week on Monday. He hit .440 and scored nine runs last week. It was the second time he’s received the award in his career. … Wood made 10 starts last season in August and September, going 2-4. He had a no decision in his only other start this season on April 15 against Tampa Bay. … Kansas City last went .500 on a road trip July 14-21 of last year when it went 4-4 against Detroit and Cleveland.