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Baek, Johjima help Mariners slam Royals

May 27, 2007 - 3:37 AM KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- The Kansas City Royals found a way to slow down Ichiro Suzuki, but they had no answers for Cha Seung Baek.

Baek pitched into the eighth inning and Kenji Johjima blasted his first career grand slam to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 9-1 triumph over the Royals on Saturday night.

It was the fourth victory in the last five games for the Mariners (23-22), who climbed above the .500 mark for the first time since May 16.

A key factor to the Mariners' recent success has been the improved play of Ichiro, who entered Saturday with an 18-game hitting streak over which he batted .433 (35-for-79).

A two-time batting champion and former MVP, Ichiro was stalled in this contest, going hitless in his first four at-bats. The six-time All-Star came through in the ninth, however, slapping an RBI infield single to preserve his hitting streak.

"That's a tough play," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "It's not an impossible play, but it's out of the ordinary."

Ichiro was not fazed by his late hit, claiming that numerous hitting streaks are saved in a final at-bat.

"It's happened so many times, I don't remember," he said through an interpreter.

Seattle did not need much production from Ichiro thanks to Baek (2-2), who recorded a career-high seven strikeouts in seven-plus innings. Just three days shy of his 27th birthday, Baek yielded only one unearned run and five hits with no walks.

"(Baek) threw really well," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "Cha Seung was awfully good tonight. He kept the ball down, not in the middle of the plate. ... He is throwing more strikes. He's ahead of hitters. He's really established himself as one of our guys."

"My sliders and cutters worked good," Baek said. "And the changeup also, the curveball, the fastball. Everything."

Kansas City mounted its only attack against Baek in the third, when Tony Pena Jr. laid down a perfect bunt single and advanced to to second on third baseman Adrian Beltre's throwing error.

The Royals took a 1-0 lead two batters later when Mark Grudzielanek reached on a throwing error by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, allowing Pena to score.

"Give a little credit to (Baek)," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "He pitched pretty well. He was hard and soft all night. He didn't throw anything in between. He threw a splitter for strikes, he threw a curveball for strikes."

"(Baek's) command was great, especially the breaking ball," Johjima said through an interpreter. "He was always able to throw the breaking ball for a strike. When he was behind, that was very effective tonight."

The Mariners more than answered in the following frame against Royals starter Brian Bannister (0-3), who yielded a double, a walk and a single to load the bases with one out.

That set the stage for Johjima, who hooked Bannister's first pitch around the foul pole in left field to give the Mariners a 4-1 lead. It was the seventh homer this season for Johjima, who has 10 hits and seven RBI over his last five games.

"I'm always looking for the fastball in my at-bats," Johjima said. "That pitch was right there."

"I don't give up a lot of home runs," Bannister said. "Sometimes a well-pitched game comes down to one swing. There were a lot of zeros up on the board. I was just trying to get ahead of Johjima with a first-pitch fastball, and he just got it."

Richie Sexson crushed a three-run homer and Beltre added two hits for the Mariners, who erupted for five runs in the ninth inning to put away the contest.

Aside from Johjima's grand slam, Bannister delivered a solid effort, yielding four runs and eight hits over a career-high seven innings. The righthander walked two without recording a strikeout.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    SEATTLE 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 5 9 12 2
    KANSAS CITY 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: SEA - CHA SEUNG BAEK, GEORGE SHERRILL (8TH), BRANDON MORROW (8TH),
    J.J. PUTZ (9TH) AND KENJI JOHJIMA
    KAN - BRIAN BANNISTER, RYAN BRAUN (8TH) AND JASON LARUE

    HOME

    May 26 9:51 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY RICHIE SEXSON (6) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT
    IN THE 9TH OFF RYAN BRAUN SCORED ICHIRO SUZUKI AND JOSE VIDRO.
    CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 9, KANSAS CITY 1
    DUE UP FOR SEATTLE: J ELLISON (.235, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Mariners vs. RoyalsMay 26 9:44 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY RAUL IBANEZ SCORED YUNIESKY BETANCOURT.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J VIDRO ON FIRST, I SUZUKI ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 6
    KANSAS CITY 1 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR SEATTLE: R SEXSON (.176, 0-FOR-3, BB)

    Mariners vs. RoyalsMay 26 9:44 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ICHIRO SUZUKI SCORED ADRIAN BELTRE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, I SUZUKI ON FIRST, Y BETANCOURT ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 5
    KANSAS CITY 1 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR SEATTLE: J VIDRO (.310, 0-FOR-4)

    Mariners vs. RoyalsMay 26 9:34 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    GRAND SLAM BY KENJI JOHJIMA (7) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    4TH OFF BRIAN BANNISTER SCORED RAUL IBANEZ, RICHIE SEXSON AND BEN
    BROUSSARD.
    CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 4, KANSAS CITY 1
    DUE UP FOR SEATTLE: A BELTRE (.247, 0-FOR-1)

    Mariners vs. RoyalsMay 26 8:05 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY YUNIESKY BETANCOURT ALLOWED TONY PENA JR TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M GRUDZIELANEK ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 0
    KANSAS CITY 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: M TEAHEN (.298, 0-FOR-1)

    Mariners vs. RoyalsMay 26 7:52 PM