Sports

Mariners’ Vargas blanks Rays on four hits

Jason Vargas tossed a four-hitter for the first shutout of his career, and Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo hit back-to-back homers as the Seattle Mariners roughed up Tampa Bay pitching for the second straight night, 7-0 on Friday at Seattle.

Vargas (4-3) rolled through the Rays, bouncing back from two straight poor starts where he failed to get beyond the fifth in either. It was the second complete game of his career and first since Aug. 21, 2005, when he was a prospect with Florida.

Andy Sonnanstine (0-2) was already trailing 4-0 when Kennedy and Olivo both hit their fifth homer of the season two pitches apart. It was the second time this year Seattle has hit consecutive blasts.

Justin Smoak homered in the first inning for Seattle, his 10th of the season.

With the kind of offense Seattle provided for a second straight game, Vargas could have gotten away with being off again. In his last start against the New York Yankees, Vargas was done after three innings, giving up six earned runs.

But the Rays rarely threatened. Only twice did they get a baserunner to second — once on a wild pitch, the other a stolen base — and each were left stranded there. Vargas was helped by Franklin Gutierrez’s running catch to end the sixth as he crashed into the wall in center field, robbing Ben Zobrist of extra bases and an RBI.

Vargas retired 16 of 17 during one stretch before Johnny Damon’s one-out single in the ninth. Zobrist then followed with an infield single after Chone Figgins lost his footing along the third-base line. But Vargas got Evan Longoria to fly out and Matt Joyce to ground out to end it.

Before the ninth, Vargas hadn’t allowed a hit since Zobrist’s single back up the middle in the fourth that eluded Kennedy’s diving attempt. Vargas struck out four and walked one, throwing 115 pitches

Smoak’s homer with two outs in the first was his fourth of the Mariners current homestand. Seattle has seven homers in the first two games of the series — 20 percent of its season total of 35.

Sonnanstine’s trouble really started in the third when Seattle sent nine men to the plate, yet got just one hit in scoring three times. Carlos Peguero was hit by a pitch and Ichiro Suzkui walked. Brendan Ryan then tried a sacrifice bunt. Catcher John Jaso jumped on the bunt and threw to Longoria at third, but Peguero got his foot on the bag before Longoria.

Smoak walked on a 3-2 pitch to score one, Jack Cust’s RBI groundout scored another and after a line drive out and Kennedy’s intentional walk, Olivo ripped a one-hopper that bounced away from Longoria to score another run.

Sonnanstine also looked like he would get out of the fifth without harm, only to leave an 0-2 pitch over the plate to Kennedy, then making the same mistake to Olivo.

Sonnanstine has allowed homers in each of his last five appearances and Tampa Bay is 0-4 in games he has started. It was the fifth time in his career he’s allowed at least three homers in a game. He allowed 11 total home runs in 2010 and has given up 10 already this season.



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