May 26, 2011 in Sports

Bedard, Mariners blank Twins

Ryan, Gutierrez lead offense
Geoff Baker Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard threw six shutout innings against the Twins.
(Full-size photo)

MINNEAPOLIS – Energy and enthusiasm were everywhere after the Seattle Mariners capped another winning road trip to set up an intriguing weekend series at home with the New York Yankees.

Brendan Ryan is peaking into a kinetic dynamo at the plate and on the basepaths. Franklin Gutierrez, who homered in a 3-0 win Wednesday over the Minnesota Twins, is feeling strong and energetic again.

Now the Mariners have a day off to bask in taking five of six on the road and seven of their last eight. But the giddy-sounding Ryan is having a hard time containing himself in anticipation of what’s ahead.

“This is fun baseball right now,” said the Seattle shortstop, who drove in the second run of Wednesday’s game with a single in the second inning, then tripled in the seventh and is hitting .408 over his last 15 contests. “We’ve got to take care of business when we get home, but five out of six on the road, that’s pretty good.”

Ryan wasn’t about to stop there. He’s already looking beyond this weekend – way beyond.

“We’re one behind .500, I think,” he said of a Mariners team that is 24-25. “I don’t know how many that is from 90, or 95 wins, but I don’t care what anyone says, this is about playing in October.

“So keep winning series, playing good baseball and the way our starters go, it almost seems like we don’t really care who gets the ball. We’ve just got to put a couple of runs on the board.”

Erik Bedard made that formula work, scattering six hits over six innings with a breaking ball Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said “was snapping as hard as anybody’s we’ve seen this year.” Gutierrez belted his first home run of the season in the fourth to pad Bedard’s lead to 3-0.

A crowd of 38,860 at Target Field saw the Twins’ final hope die in the fifth after they put two on with none out and Bedard fell behind 3-0 to Denard Span. But the Mariners’ left-hander fought back and got a ground out that advanced the runners, then a fly out to right by Matt Tolbert in which Drew Butera held at third.

The crowd booed the decision, especially when Ichiro Suzuki’s throw from right field looked offline and short. The fans booed louder when Jason Kubel flied out to end the threat.

“That’s a big inning,” Bedard said. “We were up 3-0 and if something happens, or I give up a hit or anything, the game gets closer and they see more pitches. You just battle out there. Try to keep the ball down and get out of the inning.”

David Pauley relieved Bedard after the sixth and tossed two more scoreless innings before Brandon League finished a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Mariners mustered only three hits off Twins starter Brian Duensing before Ryan’s triple in the seventh. Adam Kennedy doubled down the right-field line to score Gutierrez from first base in the second inning.

Kennedy then scored on Ryan’s single to center. Gutierrez capped the scoring with his homer in the fourth.

Box score on Page B6


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