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News » King Felix shakes off bad start to get M's win

King Felix shakes off bad start to get M's win

King Felix shakes off bad start to get M's win
SEATTLE (AP) - Felix Hernandez survived early struggles and the surging Seattle Mariners used a five-run fifth inning for a 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

The win was the seventh in eight games for the team that lost 101 games last season. Seattle (8-3) has tied the franchise's best 11-game start, and has the best record in the American League.

Brandon Morrow finished the ninth for his third save.

Adrian Beltre doubled twice, the second of which went off the wall in left-center field and scored 39-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. from first in the eighth. Griffey high-stepped across the plate to beat the catcher's tag and then grinned all the way into the dugout.

Beltre mocked Griffey's high step when he got to second base. In the dugout, pitcher Carlos Silva playfully felt Griffey's chest to see how hard the old man's heart was pounding.

Griffey then stood at dugout railing and pantomimed push-ups to Beltre, as if baseball's active home run leader was saying Beltre needed more strength to hit a homer. Beltre laughed across the field at Griffey, who hit his 613th home run this week.

Hernandez (2-0) allowed three runs in the second inning but escaped with the bases loaded. He ended up allowing those three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one.

Seattle was scoreless and hitless through four innings while taking pitches from Justin Verlander (1-1), who had allowed 11 runs in his first two starts. Then Seattle changed its approach.

When Beltre led off the fifth inning with a double, it was the first time a Mariner had swung at a first pitch all night. Russell Branyan singled Beltre to third. Then Jose Lopez singled home Beltre.

After a sacrifice by Rob Johnson moved Branyan to third base, Yuniesky Betancourt hit an 0-2 pitch to Brandon Inge. The third baseman's throw short-hopped catcher Gerald Laird for an error as the late-arriving Branyan slid in safely to tie the game at 2.

Branyan left the game with a tight back following the slide. He will be evaluated on Saturday.

As the crowd was still cheering, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu put on a first-pitch squeeze play with Franklin Gutierrez. Seattle's new center fielder executed it perfectly, and the push bunt bounced off Verlander's glove to the right of the mound as Lopez scored put the Mariners ahead.

Ichiro Suzuki, who set the Japanese record for career hits Thursday night, lined a single just over Verlander's glove to score Betancourt. Then Verlander crossed up Laird on a fastball that went to the screen for a wild pitch to score Gutierrez.

The first 12 Mariners looked at the first pitch. Eight of the next 10 swung at Verlander's first offering - and scored five runs on five hits. Beltre's second double was also on the first pitch, and it ended Verlander's night. He allowed six runs - five earned - and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked one.


Proof Wakamatsu is making good on his vow to install small ball: The Mariners' nine sacrifice bunts lead the AL. They had five more than any other team entering Friday. ... Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera had three more hits and is batting .513. ... Detroit got good news on pitchers yet to make their season debuts. RHP Joel Zumaya (shoulder) has moved his rehabilitation from Class A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo and will pitch for the Mud Hens on Saturday. He pitched in only one spring game. "It's exciting that he's healthy," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. LHP Dontrelle Willis, on the DL with an anxiety disorder, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday with Lakeland.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 18, 2009

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