June 1, 2010 in Sports

Mariners blow past Twins

Gregg Bell Associated Press
 
Elaine Thompson photo

Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr., left, and Milton Bradley share a laugh in the dugout as the team takes a lead against the Minnesota Twins in the fourth inning during a baseball game Tuesday, June 1, 2010, in Seattle.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SEATTLE — Jose Lopez homered and drove in three runs, Chone Figgins had two hits including an RBI double in Seattle’s four-run fourth and starter Jason Vargas slowed down the Minnesota Twins in the Mariners’ 7-1 victory on Tuesday night.

Vargas (4-2) ended a string of three consecutive no-decisions while stopping Seattle’s losing streak at three games.

He allowed Justin Morneau’s solo home run on a 3-0 gift pitch in the third — and just five other hits in seven innings.

Minnesota’s winning streak ended at a season high-tying five games.

The 27-year-old Vargas was competing for a roster spot in spring training but now is a surprise of Seattle’s skittish season.

Finally healthy after a couple years trying to get over hip surgery that cost him all of 2008, the former project with the Marlins and Mets has a 2.92 ERA — among the top 10 in the American League.

Figgins has been so large a disappointment as Seattle’s new No. 2 hitter behind Ichiro Suzuki, people have been demanding he be demoted to ninth. But he has eight hits in his last five games to raise his average from .194 to .217.

His double was his first RBI in nine games. He also walked and stole his 11th base of the season in the seventh.

It was the kind of night the Mariners envisioned would be Figgins’ norm this winter when they signed him to a $36 million, four-year contract.

Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn was aiming for his career-high sixth consecutive win, after a 5-0 May with a 2.65 ERA. But he was gone after a season-low 3 2-3 innings, having allowed 10 hits and five earned runs.

Seattle broke a 1-1 tie and chased Blackburn (6-2) in the fourth.

Lopez hit a high fastball on a full count into the left-field bleachers with a man on. It was his third home run of the season and second in five days.

Then Eliezer Alfonzo sparked two more runs with his second single and fifth hit in seven at-bats since he was recalled last week from Triple-A Tacoma for his Mariners debut, to replace injured catcher Josh Bard. Ichiro Suzuki followed with an RBI single, the second of his three hits. Then Figgins doubled home Alfonzo off the right-field wall with his 11th hit in 19 at-bats (.579) against Blackburn.

Minnesota’s right-hander left after that pitch.

Vargas’ most important move may have come in the fifth. He saved himself a potentially bad head or face injury by getting his glove up just in time to snare a wicked liner back at him by Joe Mauer.

The ball was hit so hard, Vargas’ eyes were huge as he looked at the webbing at his black glove after the out. It looked as if he was ensuring that part was still intact.

NOTES: Twins 2B Orlando Hudson rejoined the team Tuesday, two days after his entire left arm went numb following a collision with teammate Denard Span. A CT scan on the four-time Gold Glover showed there was no structural damage. The two-time All-Star had his left wrist reconstructed in surgery two years ago. Hudson got electric stimulation therapy, then was smiling and wearing a bionic-looking chip inside a bandage over the wrist. “I’m not going to say it’s a lot better, but it’s better,” he said. The Twins say Hudson could be back playing before the weekend. … Manager Ron Gardenhire says closer Jon Rauch, the fill-in for injured Joe Nathan, has had “tightness” in his hamstring and iliotibial band of his leg but that it hasn’t bothered him while he’s pitched.

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