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Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Six-run first inning off Tim Lincecum allows Mariners to dispatch Angels

Seattle’s Mike Zunino  is greeted at the plate by Adam Lind after Zunino hit a three-run home run in the first inning Friday. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seattle’s Mike Zunino is greeted at the plate by Adam Lind after Zunino hit a three-run home run in the first inning Friday. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
By Bob Dutton Tacoma News Tribune

SEATTLE – Think of it as a case of “before and after” that somehow worked Friday for the Mariners as they kicked off their Ken Griffey Jr. Celebration Weekend with a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Felix Hernandez survived a shaky first inning that found him in a 3-0 hole after three batters, courtesy of a Mike Trout home run. But Hernandez allowed just one more hit in pitching through the eighth inning.

The Mariners beat up on the shell of Tim Lincecum for six runs in the first inning, which more than erased Trout’s homer. After that, the Mariners put runners on base in every inning. And got nothing more.

It worked out.

Mike Zunino’s three-run homer capped the six-run first inning. He reached down and golfed a change-up from Lincecum with sufficient muscle to clear the left-field wall.

Hernandez (6-4) gave up four runs and three hits in his longest outing of the season. Rookie Edwin Diaz finished off the Angels with a scoreless ninth for his third save in three chances since becoming the club’s closer.

The victory enabled the Mariners to reach the two-thirds point in their season at 55-53. They are seven games behind first-place Texas in the American League West Division and also seven back in the wild-card race.

Lincecum (2-6) exited with one out in the fourth. Nine starts into his comeback, his ERA is 9.16. He is a four-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009 while at San Francisco.

It didn’t start well.

Yunel Escobar whacked Hernandez’s first pitch into the left-center gap for a double. Hernandez followed that with a four-pitch walk to Kole Calhoun, which got the game to Trout.

Trout crushed a 1-1 change-up for a 425-foot homer to left.

The Angels led 3-0.

The Mariners answered with six runs.

Singles by Nori Aoki, Seth Smith, Robinson Cano produced one run before a squib single by Nelson Cruz loaded the bases with no outs.

Kyle Seager flied out to short right, but Adam Lind drove an RBI single off the right-field wall. Leonys Martin tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right.

Zunino then fought back from a 0-2 hole and worked the count full before flicking Lincecum’s down-and-away change-up 387 feet to left for a three-run homer.

Impressive power. It was Zunino’s sixth homer in 14 games.

The six runs marked the Mariners’ biggest first inning since they scored seven on May 15, 2013, in a 12-2 victory over New York at Yankee Stadium.

It stayed 6-3 until Jett Bandy opened the L.A. fifth with a homer. Lind then whiffed on Cliff Pennington’s grounder to first, but Pennington tried for second and was thrown out by Smith from right field.

Play of the game: The Mariners had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning when Adam Lind pulled a drive into the right-field corner that one-hopped the wall.

Somehow all it produced was a one-run single.

Stat pack: Mike Trout’s homer in the first inning was the sixth of his career against Felix Hernandez. The only other player with six homers against the King is Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who recently announced plans to retire at the end of the season.

Short hops: Ken Griffey Jr. got a standing ovation when he made a brief appearance on the field prior to the Mariners coming to bat in the first inning. His No. 24 will be retired Saturday by the Mariners in a pregame ceremony.

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