Mariners 9, Royals 4

Casper Wells walked back to the dugout after belting a three-run

homer in the first inning and a two-run triple in the second, and

was already hearing it from his Seattle teammates.

The toughest two legs of the cycle were in the books.

Piece of cake from here, right?

”It was like, geez, thanks guys,” said Wells, whose five RBIs

in the first two innings of the Mariners’ 9-4 victory over the

Kansas City Royals on Monday night were a career high.

”Do you tell a pitcher when they’re throwing perfect game,

`Hey, you’re throwing a perfect game?”’ Wells said with a smile.

”It’s like, `Hey, thanks.”’

Wells couldn’t manage a hit in his next three at-bats, though

the Mariners hardly needed any more offense. They had already

battered Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez for seven runs in 1 1-3

innings and were on their way to their best output since June

20.

Justin Smoak also had a two-run homer off Sanchez (1-6), Ichiro

Suzuki added an RBI triple and Dustin Ackley homered to pace one of

the worst offenses in the American League.

”I loved the way they turned around some fastballs,” Seattle

manager Eric Wedge said. ”If you want to be a good big league

hitter, you have to turn around some fastballs.”

Or whatever else Sanchez was throwing.

Jason Vargas (9-7) took advantage of Seattle’s instant offense,

giving up homers to Salvador Perez and Billy Butler but still

lasting six shaky innings to win his second straight game.

Vargas went the distance in beating Oakland just before the

All-Star break.

”When your offense comes out like that,” he said, ”you

shouldn’t blow the lead.”

Acquired this past offseason for outfielder Melky Cabrera, the

MVP of the All-Star game at Kauffman Stadium just last week,

Sanchez has been nothing short of abysmal all year.

He hasn’t gone past the sixth inning since May 28, 2011, and

hasn’t allowed fewer than four runs since early June. His

already-bloated ERA rose to 7.76, and he’s drawn the ire of Kansas

City fans for his almost nonchalant attitude during and after his

outings.

”When you work four days in a row to make a start and it

doesn’t work, it’s kind of frustrating,” Sanchez said. ”What can

I say? I’ve got to look forward and see what happens.”

Sanchez didn’t even give fans a chance to get comfy Monday

night.

He walked Ackley on five pitches to start the game, and then

watched Suzuki dump a single into left field before Wells belted a

three-run homer to left. Jesus Montero added a single and Smoak hit

his two-run shot, giving the Mariners a 5-0 lead after just five

batters.

Sanchez retired the next batter to get through the inning, but

gave up another base hit to Brendan Ryan leading off the second.

Ackley added a single and Wells a two-run triple, giving Seattle a

7-0 lead and sending Sanchez on the slow trudge back to the

dugout.

He still hasn’t won since his Royals debut on April 8.

”They jumped on a couple of high fastballs for home runs in the

first,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”It’s one of those games

where they were on him, put seven runs up early and there’s not

much we could do.”

All that offense came from a Seattle lineup that came into the

night second-to-last in the AL in homers, runs and team batting

average (.229), and last in OBP and RBIs.

Perez homered to help Kansas City crack the scoreboard in the

third inning, and Butler’s two-run shot with two outs gave the

Royals’ sullen fanbase reason to hope – at least for the precious

few minutes before Seattle came to the plate in the fourth

inning.

Suzuki’s RBI triple put a crimp in their comeback hopes, and

Ackley’s homer in the sixth may have dashed them entirely. The

Mariners coasted from there to a series-opening victory.

”We can’t control the end result,” Wedge said. ”We just want

to go out there, put together good at-bats, turn around some

fastballs, and if we do that, the runs will come.”

NOTES: Ryan left after his second-inning at-bat, when he fouled

a pitch off his left knee. He is day to day with a bruise. … SS

Alcides Escobar grounded into double plays his first two at-bats,

making him responsible for four of the Royals’ first eight outs.

… Kansas City 2B Yuniesky Betancourt had his 200th career double

in the second inning. … RHP Blake Beavan is expected to return

from Triple-A Tacoma to start Tuesday for Seattle. The Royals had

not decided on a starter.