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Seattle Mariners

Moore, French help M’s avoid sweep

Sun., Aug. 29, 2010, 9:12 p.m.

Clutch hitting, pitching leads to 2-1 win over Twins

SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners had waited nearly three games for the big hit that would make the difference between losing and winning.

What Adam Moore delivered in the seventh inning Sunday was more like the shot heard ’round the infield, but it worked in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Moore came to the plate with the score tied, runners on first and third and one out in the seventh, and getting that much-needed big hit clearly was on his mind.

“I was looking to drive the ball somewhere in the gap,” he said.

He accomplished the same thing with a soft grounder to shortstop that scored the go-ahead run to complete a two-run Mariners rally. It appeared at first to be a potential inning-ending double play, but he beat second baseman Orlando Hudson’s relay throw to first, keeping the inning alive and allowing Casey Kotchman to score.

“I’ve got no speed,” Moore said. “But whenever I hit it I knew I had to beat it down the line.”

The Mariners’ two-run outburst ended a stretch of 15 straight scoreless innings and, for the first time in the three-game series, bailed out their hard-luck pitching.

Left-hander Luke French held the Twins to three hits and only Michael Cuddyer’s second-deck solo home run in the top of the seventh. Brandon League pitched around a hit to keep the Twins scoreless in the eighth and closer David Aardsma did the same in the ninth for his 25th save.

The victory also allowed Mariners manager Daren Brown to avoid being swept in a series for the first time since he took over after Don Wakamatsu was fired Aug. 9.

“Going forward, you’re looking for positives,” Brown said. “You string something together, get a couple of runs, and it was enough today. It’s a good feeling for the guys in the clubhouse.”

Except for his five-run, five-inning start last weekend at New York, French has pitched reasonably well recently.

Sunday was the fifth time in six starts this month that he’d pitched at least six innings, and the three-hitter matched his outing two starts ago at Baltimore, where he held the Orioles to three hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings.

He located his fastball and kept the Twins off balance with his changeup.

“Really, just execution of pitches,” French said. “Keeping the ball down was big. In situations I needed an out, I was able to make a pitch to do that.”

Moore also made a huge play in the fourth inning when he threw out speedy Denard Span trying to steal third base with one out. Moore made that throw from his knees.

“He got a pretty good jump and it was a changeup that kind of cut in,” Moore said. “I had only one play and that was off my knees.”

French allowed only one baserunner among the next 10 hitters he faced, taking him one out into the seventh inning.

Then he fell behind Cuddyer 3-0 and tried to throw a fastball for a strike. Cuddyer hit it into the second deck beyond the left-field fence for a 1-0 Twin lead.

“It was probably at his chin and he freaking put a lick on it,” Moore said. “Tip your hat right there. It’s 3-0, seventh inning and you don’t want to put the guy on. We went at him and got a deep fly.”

In the seventh, Franklin Gutierrez singled to left to drive in Jose Lopez to tie the game before Moore came through.

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