April 28, 2011 in Sports

M’s Smoak helps Bedard snap winless gap

Noah Trister Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Erik Bedard picked up his first win in nearly two years.
(Full-size photo)

DETROIT – After missing a week following the death of his father, Justin Smoak rejoined the Seattle Mariners in Detroit – and was ready for an immediate return to the lineup.

“That’s something you want to do, just get back into it,” Smoak said. “Try to take your mind off other things.”

Smoak homered and drove in a career-high five runs to help Seattle rout the Detroit Tigers 10-1 on Wednesday night. It was his second straight night with a home run after coming back from the bereavement list. His three-run shot in the first inning helped Erik Bedard earn his first win since June 2009.

Bedard (1-4) pitched seven innings, allowing a run and five hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

“They were swinging tonight,” said Bedard, who threw 88 pitches. “I economized my pitches and got deep in the game.”

The Mariners broke it open with six runs in the ninth.

Detroit’s Justin Verlander (2-3) allowed four runs – three earned – and five hits in six innings. He struck out eight and walked three.

Smoak said he was able to take some batting practice while he was away from the team.

“I had to get out of the house and try to do something because I knew I was coming right back,” he said.

He provided all the scoring Seattle needed with an opposite-field shot off Verlander. The Mariners were already frustrated in the first after Chone Figgins was thrown out at the plate on Miguel Olivo’s single to left – replays appeared to show catcher Alex Avila missing the tag by a significant margin. After manager Eric Wedge came out to argue that call, Smoak stepped in and hit the ball over the wall in left-center.

“Basically, as bad as I was, the whole game comes down to the one mistake to Smoak,” Verlander said. “I was trying to go down and away, and I basically got the pitch six inches higher than I wanted. He went down and got it – that was a nice swing – but it killed all of our momentum.”

The home run went an estimated 405 feet.

“This is a huge park,” Smoak said. “I knew I hit it well, and I thought it was in the gap. It happened to go over.”

It was Smoak’s fourth home run of the year and second from the left side of the plate. He entered the game 5 of 27 hitting left-handed.

Bedard missed last season after surgery on his throwing shoulder. This was his first win since June 7, 2009, against Minnesota.

“It means more to the team,” Bedard said. “That’s what you’re trying to accomplish – get wins for the team. I’m happy for that.”

He allowed a run in the bottom of the first on Miguel Cabrera’s RBI double, but that was it. Bedard struck out Austin Jackson with men on second and third to end the fifth.

“That poor guy has been plagued with injuries for years,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of Bedard. “But he looked better tonight than I’ve seen him for a while now.”

Seattle scored an unearned run in the fifth on Olivo’s sacrifice fly, which came after Verlander’s wild pickoff throw to second put runners at second and third.

The Mariners poured it on in the ninth. Ichiro Suzuki and Figgins hit RBI singles, and Smoak drove in two more runs with a single. Even Jack Cust – who had struck out his first four times up – hit an RBI double.

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