Mariners 3, Royals 2

Until this season, Jason Vargas had never tossed more than 100

major league innings in a season, and that came a year ago, when he

was in his first year back from hip surgery.

The question that keeps popping up about Vargas’ ability to

continually churn out innings as the season wears on is starting to

get a little grating to the Mariners lefty.

”That seems to be a question every week and I think every week

I prepare myself to do the same thing,” Vargas said. ”Physically,

I feel fine.”

Vargas allowed one run in six solid innings to win his seventh

game at home, and Casey Kotchman’s two-run single in the sixth gave

Seattle the lead for good in the Mariners’ 3-2 win over the Kansas

City Royals on Sunday.

Vargas (8-5) improved to 7-2 at Safeco Field this season, taking

a shutout into the sixth inning. It was his second consecutive

victory after going more than a month without a win. He’s now

thrown nearly 140 innings this season and moved into the lead for

wins among Seattle starters while lowering his ERA to 3.12.

Sunday was the 17th time in his 22 starts that Vargas has thrown

at least six innings.

”I threw a little more fastballs today, a little different than

normal, but pitched in a lot and got ahead early,” Vargas said.

”I was happy with how I threw the ball.

Seattle took two of three from the Royals, winning its first

series since taking two of three from the New York Yankees from

June 29-July 1. The Mariners’ last series win at home came in June

against the Chicago Cubs.

Kansas City starter Kyle Davies (5-7) was Vargas’ equal until

the sixth inning when he gave up three straight one-out hits. The

last single, a liner up the middle by Kotchman, scored Ichiro

Suzuki and Chone Figgins with the go-ahead runs.

Figgins added a bit of insurance in the eighth with an RBI

single to score Suzuki. The top two in Seattle’s order – Suzuki and

Figgins – were a combined 4 for 7 and scored all three runs.

Figgins is hitting .522 on the Mariners current homestand.

”Over the last couple of months I’ve been attacking the

baseball and getting on top of hit more and hitting more line

drives and hard ground balls and that’s my game,” Figgins

said.

For the first few innings, Vargas was untouchable. He allowed

one hit entering the sixth – a double by Billy Butler in the fourth

that Suzuki made a leaping attempt for but bounced out of his

glove. Jason Kendall started the sixth with a single and scored

with two outs when Mike Aviles rolled a grounder in the hole

between first and second that Figgins smothered but didn’t have a

play, allowing Kendall to score.

Vargas allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out

three.

”You look at his numbers and his numbers matched his

performance,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. ”He stays on the

attack and keeps you off balance. … I was impressed with

him.”

Vargas was replaced to begin the seventh after throwing just 90

pitches, but the Mariners bullpen didn’t let this one get away.

Jamey Wright worked the seventh and Brandon League nearly blew the

lead in the eighth before an inning ending double play.

Kansas City got one out singles from Wilson Betemit and Brayan

Pena to put runners on the corners off League. Aviles couldn’t come

through again, grounding into an inning ending double play.

David Aardsma entered in the ninth and pinch-hitter Alex Gordon

hit his fifth homer of the season with one out. Aardsma rebounded

to retire the final two batters for his 20th save in 24

chances.

Davies was nearly as good as Vargas, giving up just Josh

Wilson’s single in the third inning before Seattle got to Davies in

the sixth. Davies gave up two runs and five hits and struck out

five. It was his first loss since June 26.

”Kotchman was just a bad pitch,” Davies said. ”It was a curve

ball over the middle of the plate and he got a two-run

single.”

Seattle missed a chance to pad its lead in the seventh with

runners on second and third and one out. Seattle manager Don

Wakamatsu called for a squeeze bunt with Ryan Langerhans at the

plate, but Kansas City reliever Kanekoa Texeira threw a pitch out

and Langerhans – trying to reach across the plate to get a part of

the bat on the pitch – had no chance, leaving Franklin Gutierrez

hung up between third and home. Langerhans then struck out to end

the inning.

NOTES: Seattle C Adam Moore was scratched before the game with a

stiff back. … Seattle SS Jack Wilson has a broken fifth

metacarpal in his right hand. He will see a hand specialist on

Monday. … Davies has gotten no decision in seven of his last 10

starts.