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Thursday, July 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Home Runs Pick Up M’S

Jim Street Seattle Post-Intelligencer

See how easy it is.

Give Randy Johnson the baseball and let him throw it for seven innings. Put runners on base for the power hitters and watch them hit home runs.

It doesn’t always work that way for the Seattle Mariners, but that was a winning combination Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, where the M’s snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating the Kansas City Royals 8-4.

Actually, it wasn’t exactly THAT easy.

Johnson wobbled early, falling into a four-run deficit by the third inning.

Then, Paul Sorrento cracked a two-run homer in the fourth inning, Jay Buhner unloaded a go-ahead three-run shot in the fifth and Ken Griffey Jr. tacked on yet another fence-clearing bolt, his 21st, in the ninth.

Buhner, suddenly hot, has homered in four straight games. None was more important than his 429-foot blast onto the grass behind the center-field fence that clamped the loss on ex-Mariners right-hander Tim Belcher.

“Power hitters go into streaks more so than other hitters, no question,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said. “And Jay is in one.”

Buhner is halfway to Griffey’s club record of eight consecutive games with a home run. That also is the major-league record.

Without the latest Buhner blast, Johnson probably would have been more downcast than he was after the series opener. Despite improving to 6-1 and striking out 10 batters for the 71st time in his career, the left-hander said it wasn’t a vintage performance.

“I struggled for three innings but fortunately got a second chance because of Paul, Junior and Jay,” he said. “Against a pitcher like (Belcher), who has been pitching extremely well this season … giving up that many runs early in the game.”

Belcher, who helped the Mariners reach the American League Championship Series in 1995, packed a 5-4 record and 2.35 ERA (fourth in the A.L.) into the game.

“Whenever you get a four-run lead, you should win,” Belcher said. It was difficult to tell who actually was the winning pitcher.

“The win is nice, but I’m still not happy with the way I’m pitching,” Johnson said. “I am making too many mental mistakes and am not locked in the way I was before the (May 8) Baltimore game.

“Maybe this is the game that will get me going. I’ll get it eventually.”

The Royals, who have lost seven straight, scored once in each of the first two innings and twice in the third - on Joe Vitiello’s first-pitch, opposite-field homer to right field.

There were instant recollections of Anaheim Stadium, where the Mariners surrendered 29 runs while losing the second and third games of the series.

But unlike those defeats, Seattle’s pitching responded. Johnson settled down and choked the Royals on three more singles, throwing a season-high 136 pitches.

“When we got the lead, Randy put it in another gear,” Piniella said. “He pitched a fine ballgame.”

Johnson handed off to Bobby Ayala, who worked a 1-2-3 eighth. Ayala then yielded to Norm Charlton, who worked a 1-2-3-4-5 ninth.

“After what happened in Anaheim, we needed this,” Sorrento said. “This was a good way to come back from a terrible loss on Wednesday.”

They were still upset about it Friday afternoon and called a players-only meeting.

“We told ourselves that it’s a long year and to keep going together,” Sorrento said. “We haven’t played well to this point, but are still right there (in the A.L. West).

“If we can play this badly and still be in the hunt, then we have to keep the faith and pull together. But we have to kick ourselves in the butt and get it going.”

Notes

The Royals activated catcher Mike Macfarlane from the disabled list and optioned left-hander Allen McDill to Triple-A Omaha. Macfarlane had been sidelined since May 3 with inflammation in his right shoulder. … The Royals have won the season series with the Mariners for 10 straight years. … Joey Cora’s thirdinning single stretched his hitting streak to 18 straight games, tying his career-high. … Joe Vitiello made a great catch of a line drive by Griffey in the seventh, an over-the-shoulder grab as he fell down in front of the Royals’ bullpen in right field. … Royals third baseman Craig Paquette has grounded into more double plays (12) than he has RBIs (11). … Kansas City hasn’t been on a losing streak this long since a nine-game slide from April 15-25, 1992.

Mariners 8, Royals 4

Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg. Cora 2b 5 1 2 0 0 0 .353 ARodriguez ss 5 2 3 0 0 0 .327 Griffey Jr cf 5 1 1 2 0 2 .333 EMartinez dh 3 2 2 1 1 0 .326 Buhner rf 4 1 1 3 1 1 .226 Sorrento 1b 5 1 2 2 0 1 .286 DaWilson c 4 0 1 0 0 0 .303 Blowers 3b 4 0 1 0 0 0 .234 Ducey lf 4 0 0 0 0 0 .196 Totals 39 8 13 8 2 4

Kansas City AB R H BI BB SO Avg. Offerman 2b 4 1 1 0 1 2 .255 Roberts lf 5 0 2 1 0 1 .353 JBell ss 5 0 1 0 0 3 .313 King 1b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .214 CDavis dh 4 1 2 0 0 0 .302 Vitiello rf 4 1 1 2 0 3 .304 DHoward rf 0 0 0 0 0 0 .295 Macfarlane c 3 0 2 0 0 0 .132 1-TGoodwin pr-cf 1 0 0 0 0 0 .243 Paquette 3b 3 1 1 0 1 1 .201 Halter cf 2 0 0 0 0 1 .313 MiSweeney c 1 0 0 0 0 0 .239 Totals 35 4 10 3 3 12

Seattle 000 240 002 8

Kansas City 112 000 000 4

1-ran for Macfarlane in the 6th.

E-Cora (8), RaJohnson (1). LOB-Seattle 7, Kansas City 8. 2B-Roberts (9), Macfarlane (2). HR-Griffey Jr (21) off Pichardo; Buhner (9) off Belcher; Sorrento (6) off Belcher; Vitiello (1) off RaJohnson. RBIs-Griffey Jr 2 (57), EMartinez (32), Buhner 3 (30), Sorrento 2 (21), Roberts (18), Vitiello 2 (11). SB-Paquette (2), Halter (3). CS-TGoodwin (6). GIDP-Buhner.

Runners left in scoring position-Seattle 3 (ARodriguez, Griffey Jr, Sorrento); Kansas City 5 (Roberts, JBell, Vitiello 2, Paquette).

Runners moved up-Griffey Jr, Offerman, CDavis.

DP-Seattle 1 (Sorrento); Kansas City 1 (Paquette, Offerman and King).

Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA RaJohnson W,6-1 7 8 4 4 3 10 136 3.36 Ayala 1 0 0 0 0 1 11 5.60 Charlton 1 2 0 0 0 1 22 5.61

Kansas City IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Belcher L,5-5 6 10 6 6 1 4 115 2.88 JMontgomery 2 0 0 0 0 0 23 8.56 Pichardo 2/3 3 2 2 1 0 25 1.31 JWalker 1/3 0 0 0 0 0 2 8.44

Inherited runners-scored-JWalker 2-0.

HBP-by Belcher (EMartinez), by RaJohnson (Halter). WP- Pichardo.

T-3:04. A-21,042 (40,625).

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