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Thursday, May 25, 2006 - Page updated at 02:28 PM

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Good vibes, in moderation for M's

Seattle Times staff reporter

Just as it was too early a little while ago to start worrying too much, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove cautioned reporters that it's too early now to start getting too excited.

But he had better tell that to his first baseman, Richie Sexson, who sounded just like any other fan after the Mariners beat Baltimore 7-4 Wednesday night in front of 21,991 at Safeco Field to climb within two games of first place in the American League West.

"It's fun, isn't it?" Sexson asked. "I haven't done this for so long. It's made some of the individual things I've gone through [early in the season] disappear because we are in a race, and that's the most important thing.

"I told the guys, 'Just keep us close, and once I get going I'll make us better.' "

Sexson did his part Wednesday, driving in three runs as the Mariners jumped to a 7-0 lead after two innings.

And while the offense went into hibernation from there, the early runs were enough for Seattle to win thanks in part to a standout performance by rookie Sean Green, who pitched 2-1/3 innings of hitless relief. Green took over for starter Jarrod Washburn, who gave up four runs in 5-2/3 innings. Green's performance was critical, as the bullpen was weary after getting a lot of use of late.

J.J. Putz, pitching for the fifth time in the past six games, then came on to strike out the side in the ninth as the Mariners showed no ill effects from the ugly loss the night before, when they gave up nine runs in the ninth inning to lose 14-4.

Mariners update


Winning pitcher:

Jarrod Washburn (3-5)

Losing pitcher:

Kris Benson (6-4)

Today: Baltimore

at Seattle, 1:35 p.m., KOMO 1000 AM

Starting pitchers: M's Gil Meche (4-2) vs. Rodrigo Lopez (1-7)

Inside: The first inning has not been kind to the Mariners this season

"To come back the way we did tonight was very important and said a lot about our team," Hargrove said.

Cynics will point out that Seattle is as close as it is only because the AL West race is more sordid than torrid — Texas is in the lead at just 23-23. But however they have gotten there, it's the closest to first place the Mariners have been since April 21, and the closest this late in any season since 2003.

And a little enthusiasm is a far cry from what the Mariners were generating a week ago when they arrived home from Oakland, having been swept by the A's to fall a season-high eight games under .500.

But the Mariners appear transformed since a 57-minute team meeting following the final loss in Oakland, having gone 5-1 since then.

"It just seems like there's a different attitude in the clubhouse," Washburn said. "Some attitudes changed, is the easiest way to say it."

The Mariners, up 1-0, pounded out six hits in the second off Baltimore's Kris Benson, who had thrown a complete-game win against Washington in his last outing.

The big hits: a double by Yuniesky Betancourt that drove in two after it got by Baltimore left fielder Jeff Conine; a ground-rule double by Ichiro that extended his hitting streak to 18 games; and a double down the third-base line by Sexson, who has seven RBI in three games.

"Richie seems to be swinging the bat better," Hargrove said.

It was an unfamiliar bounty for Washburn, who came into the game having received the third-lowest run support among American League starters — 21 runs in nine starts.

And maybe that's why he struggled, allowing a two-run homer to Melvin Mora in the third, and another two-run homer to Javy Lopez in the fifth as Baltimore slowly closed the gap.

"My command was just off today," Washburn said.

Washburn left the game with two outs in the sixth inning, with Mora at the plate as the potential tying run. But Green struck out Mora swinging after falling behind 3-1. He then retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth before turning it over to Putz, who bounced back nicely from his role in Tuesday's debacle.

It all made Sexson eager, for once, to pick up the paper and look at the standings.

"We've always believed we were better than we were playing there for a while," Sexson said. "We had a tough stretch in Oakland. But we bounced back and showed what we are made of."

For the record

W-L PCT.
22-26 .458

W/L streak: W-1

At home: 14-14

On the road: 8-12

vs. AL West: 6-10

vs. Angels: 4-2

vs. Oakland: 1-6

vs. Texas: 1-2

vs. AL East: 7-6

vs. AL Cent.: 6-10

vs. NL: 3-0

vs. LHP: 5-11

vs. RHP: 17-15

Day: 6-9

Night: 16-17

1-run games: 3-8

Extra-inning

games: 2-1

Home attendance

Tuesday's crowd: 21,991

Overall attendance: 736,773

Season avg. (28 games): 26,313

Biggest crowd: 45,515

Smallest crowd: 16,102

2005 avg. (28 games): 33,496

TH

Baltimore

1:35 p.m.

RH Gil

Meche (4-2)

vs.

RH Rodrigo

Lopez (1-7)

F

@ Minnesota

5:32 p.m., Ch. 11

RH Felix

Hernandez (3-5)

vs.

LH Francisco

Liriano (2-0)

Sa

@ Minnesota

4:10 p.m., FSN

LH Jamie

Moyer (2-4)

vs.

RH Boof

Bonser (0-0)

Su

@ Minnesota

11:10 a.m., FSN

RH Joel

Pineiro (4-5)

vs.

LH Johan

Santana (4-4)

M

Texas

5:05 p.m., FSN

LH Jarrod

Washburn (3-5)

vs.

RH Robinson

Tejeda (1-2)

TU

Texas

5:05 p.m., Ch. 11

RH Gil

Meche (4-2)

vs.

RH Kevin

Millwood (5-3)

W

Texas

11:05 a.m.

RH Felix

Hernandez (3-5)

vs.

LH John

Koronka (4-2)

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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TV/Radio listings

Monday, May 6

Pro baseballTVRadio
4:07 p.m.Seattle at TorontoROOT710
7 p.m.PCL, Reno at Tacoma850
7:30 p.m.*Seattle at TorontoROOT
NBA basketball playoffs
4 p.m.New York at BostonESPN
4 p.m.Indiana at AtlantaESPN2
6:30 p.m.Oklahoma City at HoustonESPN
6:30 p.m.L.A. Clippers at MemphisESPN2
NHL hockey playoffs
4 p.m.Ottawa at MontrealCBUT
4 p.m.N.Y. Islanders at PittsburghNBCSN
4 p.m.Ottawa at MontrealCNBC
6:30 p.m.Minnesota at ChicagoNBCSN
6:30 p.m.Minnesota at ChicagoCBUT
7 p.m.San Jose at VancouverCNBC950, 102.9
Pro golf
6 a.m.*European Tour, China OpenGOLF
9:30 a.m.LPGA Tour, Kingsmill ChampionshipGOLF
NoonPGA Tour, Wells Fargo ChampionshipGOLF
4:30 p.m.*Champions Tour, Insperity Champ.GOLF
Auto racing
9 a.m.NASCAR Nationwide 312 qualifyingESPN2
11 a.m.NASCAR Sprint Cup 499 practiceSPEED
12:30 p.m.NASCAR Sprint Cup 499 practiceSPEED
2 p.m.ARCA Talladega 250SPEED
Horse racing
2 p.m.Kentucky OaksNBCSN
WHL hockey playoffs final
10:30 p.m.*Edmonton at PortlandROOT
College lacrosse
2:30 a.m.* (Sat.)ECAC Semis, Loyola,Md.vs.Ohio St.ROOT
College softball
4 p.m.Oregon St. at OregonPAC-12
6 p.m.Arizona St. at ArizonaPAC-12
IIHF hockey
2 a.m. (Sat.)United States vs. AustriaNBCSN
* Delayed broadcast

Complete TV/Radio listings

Times writers on the radio

950 KJR

  • Mariners reporter Geoff Baker appears at 9 a.m. Tuesdays with Mitch Levy.
  • Columnist Jerry Brewer appears daily with Elise Woodward 10 a.m. to noon as well as on the Seahawks Roundtable at 8:20 a.m. Thursdays during the NFL season.
  • UW reporter Bob Condotta appears on the Husky Roundtable at 8:20 a.m. Mondays during the college football season.
  • Baseball reporter Larry Stone appears at 8 a.m. Fridays with Mitch Levy.
  • UW reporter Percy Allen appears at noon every Saturday with Jeff Aaron.

Complete TV/Radio listingsMore

AL West W L Pct. GB Div. Streak
y-LA Angels 100 62 .617 --- 36-21 Won 1
Texas 79 83 .488 21 30-27 Lost 1
Oakland 75 86 .466 24.5 26-31 Lost 5
Seattle 61 101 .377 39 22-35 Won 3

y - clinched division, x - clinched playoff berth

Wild card standings | AL standings | NL standings

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