KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Shortly after Mark Teahen’s(notes) line drive cleared the wall in right, fire alarms went off all around Kauffman Stadium. Three hits and two runs later, the alarms went off again.
Coincidence? Probably, but it sure felt like the Royals bats triggered all those beeps and flashing lights.
Teahen had three hits and drove in three runs, and Sidney Ponson(notes) made a strong case to stay in the rotation with 7 1-3 solid innings to help the Kansas City Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 9-1 Wednesday night.
One of baseball’s worst-hitting teams early in the season, the AL Central-leading Royals (17-11) have scored 36 runs during a five-game winning streak and are off to their best start since 2003.
“Early in the year, everybody was a little rattled because we weren’t scoring runs,” said Teahen, who hit his fourth homer in the third inning. “We knew we had a good-hitting team, stuck with our approach and it’s paying off.”
The Royals quickly turned the matchup between surprising division leaders into a rout early. They battered Carlos Silva(notes) (1-3) and got 17 hits against a Mariners staff that had the AL’s second-lowest ERA.
“I really like the balance, I like the energy,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “When you score early, it really adds to the energy level.”
Seattle star Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) returned the lineup and doubled in his first at-bat after missing three games with stomach pain. Not much else went right for the Mariners, who were down 6-0 after three innings and gave up a season high in hits while losing for the seventh time in 10 games.
“It’s tough when you get down that many runs early,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Ponson (1-4) certainly didn’t make it easy.
The right-hander signed a minor league contract with Kansas City—his seventh team—in spring training and pitched well enough to make the opening day roster.
Ponson struggled to open the season—a 7.16 ERA—and had given up 16 runs his previous three starts. A trip to the minors seemed likely with another bad outing, particularly with Luke Hochevar(notes) pitching so well at Triple-A Omaha.
Ponson made his case to stay by working through traffic, including a bases-loaded jam with one out in the fifth inning. He allowed one run and eight hits before being pulled after allowing two singles in the eighth inning to win for the first time since Sept. 6—a span of nine outings.
“It’s one win,” Ponson said. “I got it off my back, can relax now and concentrate on doing the right things, go from there.”
Unlike some of his previous starts this season, Ponson got plenty of help from the hitters.
Even after playing an 11-hour, 4 1/2 hour game the night before, the Royals didn’t waste any time knocking around Silva.
Kansas City had four hits in the first inning, going up 3-0 on a groundout and Jacobs’ two-run single. Teahen led off the third inning with a line-drive homer that took about 2 seconds to go over the wall in right, followed by fire alarms going off all around The K. Another run scored on a double play with the bases loaded, then Silva stubbed his toe and was called for a balk with a runner on third. That made it 6-0 just before another round of alarms went off.
Silva didn’t come out for the fourth, done after allowing six runs and eight hits in his second straight shaky outing.
“They were hitting everything,” said Silva, who hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in five of six starts. ^Notes: The only other time the Royals and Mariners faced each other while in first place was July 17-20, 2003, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Griffey finished 1 for 3 with a walk.