Mariners 9, Reds 1
Ibanez staked Seattle to an early lead with a first-inning grand slam, and Sexson added a pair of solo homers in the Mariners’ 9-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.
The home run output backed a strong performance from Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn, who took a shutout into the eighth inning and quickly erased the bad taste from Friday night’s 16-1 rout by the Reds.
After dropping six straight, the Mariners have won three of four, all with solid starting pitching. Starters Jeff Weaver, Felix Hernandez and Washburn have allowed one run in Seattle’s last three wins.
“We’re all capable of what we’re doing now,” Washburn said. “When we are struggling it’s just a matter of time before we’re doing well again.”
Washburn (6-6) scattered seven hits to win for the first time in June. He lost the shutout with two out in the eighth, when Brandon Phillips lined a solo homer just over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field.
Cincinnati starter Kyle Lohse (3-10) was in trouble from the start. Ichiro Suzuki extended the major’s longest current hitting streak to 18 games with a single on Lohse’s third pitch. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, Lohse left an 0-2 fastball belt high to Ibanez, who drove the pitch just inside the right field foul pole for his sixth homer of the season.
Ibanez’s swing looked aggressive, but he was simply trying to keep the at-bat going. It was his fourth career grand slam.
“That was just trying to put it in play at that point,” Ibanez said. “It worked out. Sometimes less is more.”
Lohse also surrendered a solo homer to Sexson in the fourth and a two-run shot to Ben Broussard in the sixth. Lohse lost his third straight decision and became the fourth National League pitcher with double-digit losses. He was pulled after the sixth, giving up eight runs and six hits.
“It’s frustrating when you have the results I’m having,” Lohse said. “I wasn’t getting ahead of guys. I wasn’t challenging them until I was behind in the count and when you do that, you are pitching defensively and probably are going to get bad results.”
Sexson hit another solo homer in the eighth off reliever David Weathers. Both of his homers went to right-center field—a signal to Sexson that he may finally be pulling out of his season-long slump.
“It’s just a good sign for me when I’m hitting home runs that way,” he said.
Ibanez left the game in the bottom of the fifth when Jason Ellison pinch-hit. Ibanez appeared to grimace after grounding into a double play in the third inning that scored Jose Lopez from third base. Ibanez said the last 10 feet running to first he felt his leg tighten up and pulled himself as a precaution. He’s expected to take Sunday off and be re-evaulated.
Seattle’s offensive output was plenty for Washburn, who struck out five and only faced one major jam.
Cincinnati’s only hit through the first four innings was Alex Gonzalez’s single to right-center with one out in the second. He was immediately retired, rounding first base too far and getting tagged out at first on a throw from shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
Washburn walked the bases loaded in the second, but Gonzalez’s running blunder and a two-out popup by Juan Castro got him out of the jam. The Reds put two runners on in the fifth, but Norris Hopper lined into an unassisted double play by Sexson.
“It was one of those innings where you temporarily lose it and forget how to throw strikes,” Washburn said of the second inning. “Luckily I figured it out in time to get out of the inning without any damage and it stayed with me the rest of the game.”
Mariners fans continued to show their adulation for Griffey, the one-time face of the organization, who played his first game in Seattle since the end of the 1999 season on Friday night.
Griffey was treated to yet another standing ovation when he walked to the plate in the first inning, and again by the fans in right field taking his position. He went 1-for-4, striking out twice and singling in the sixth inning. He is 2-for-9 in the series—both hits singles. ^Notes: Despite Lohse’s struggles, he needed only three pitches to retire the Mariners in the second. Broussard, Betancourt and Suzuki all flew out on the first pitch. … Among those to visit with Griffey was Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander. The two hugged and talked on the field during batting practice. … The Mariners passed the 1 million mark in attendance on Saturday night, their 35th home game.