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Vargas dominates former club with seven scoreless

Offense gets 14 hits off Mariners starter Maurer, all of them singles

SEATTLE -- Jason Vargas was an old, though certainly not ancient, Mariner and he certainly looked right at home on the Safeco Field mound.

After all, Vargas had spent four years pitching for the Seattle club, and this was his 62nd appearance at the ballpark. For seven shutout innings Friday night, he looked like he owned the place, and the Mariners, as he pitched the Royals to a 6-1 victory.

"I don't know if it made a difference in the outcome or the way the game went," Vargas said. "I felt good about the warmup pregame and the ability to stay down. And when I'm able to do that, it keeps the fly balls from going deeper than they should and it definitely helps as the game goes on."

Meantime, the Royals' offense perked up with 16 hits -- oddly enough, all of them singles -- after being shut out in the series opener.

"We don't care how we get the runs," Eric Hosmer said. "As long as we produce 'em, that's what we want to do."

Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon each had three hits. Everyone in the Royals' starting lineup, except Mike Moustakas, contributed to the heap of singles.

"We just hit it in the right place tonight," Hosmer said.

Or as Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler once put it: "I keep my eyes clear and I hit 'em where they ain't."

It was just the fourth time in franchise history that the Royals had 16 or more all singles in a game. The other three times they had 17.

"That's baseball. This is a weird, weird game," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.

The Royals peppered Mariners starter Brandon Maurer for 14 of the singles before he was excused in the eighth inning.

Vargas, though, was hit-stingy. He retired the first seven batters to face him and didn't give up a hit until Mike Zunino, with one out in the third inning, got a single on a sharp grounder that shortstop Alcides Escobar dove to stop but couldn't capture.

Then Vargas retired seven more batters before the Mariners came up with another hit, Dustin Ackley's single that zinged past the pitcher's head with two outs in the fifth.

"He mixed it up and threw strikes," the Mariners' Willie Bloomquist said. "I saw a couple changeups and they were Jamie Moyer-like where they were coming out of the back of his hand and really falling off pretty good."

Robinson Cano opened the seventh with a single and Vargas plunked Corey Hart before retiring the side.

That was it -- just three hits against Vargas, no walks and one hit batter, and six strikeouts as he improved his record to 3-1.

"When he's on his game like he was tonight, he really works the accelerator really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He presses down with the fastball, backs off with the changeup, good curveball. What pitchers like Vargy do so well is they disrupt the opposition hitters' timing and he did that extremely well."

By contrast, Maurer had problems from the get-go. Nori Aoki and Hosmer began the game with back-to-back singles. Billy Butler's grounder to third baseman Bloomquist looked like double-play material but the throw to second base was wide and umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that Cano was off the bag when he caught the ball.

McClendon challenged and a replay review overturned the call. So there was a forceout at second, Aoki scored and Butler got an RBI.

The run snapped a string of 27 scoreless innings that the Royals had endured at Safeco since last September.

The Royals added a run in the third when Escobar singled, swiped second for his 11th steal, was bunted to third by Aoki and scored on Hosmer's sacrifice fly.

The runs kept coming. Perez and Gordon each singled to open the fourth and both scored. Butler led off the sixth with a single and got around the bases for a 5-0 lead.

When singles by Perez, Gordon and Lorenzo Cain produced a sixth run in the eighth, Maurer was finally given relief by left-hander Charlie Furbush. Maurer, despite the 14 hits against him, lasted 7 1/3 innings by economizing his pitches. He made just 97 with no walks and no strikeouts.

"He did a pretty good job of managing the damage," said the Royals' just-arrived second baseman, Johnny Giavotella.

Vargas was pulled after seven innings and 98 pitches. Did he want to go after a complete-game shutout?

"If the game calls for it but, at the same time, we're right around 100 pitches and we had some arms that were fresh in the bullpen and they're very capable of doing their jobs well," he said. "They were trying to put something together in that seventh iuning and they decided to make a change."

The Mariners finally got an unearned run against reliever Aaron Crow in the eighth. Brad Miller walked and pinch-hitter James Jones hit a double into the right-field corner. When Aoki's throw went awry, Miller scored on the error.

Tim Collins worked the ninth, fighting his command. He issued a walk and gave up a single before a flyout and a double play ended the game -- with closer Greg Holland heating up hurriedly in the bullpen.

But finally it was over with the Royals portraying a bunch of singles hitters.

"It doesn't matter," Yost said. "It's a good win for us and the more hits we get, the higher the averages get, the more they feel comfortable and confident and then we start driving the ball. I don't care how we win a game, as long as we win a game."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for
Read More: Kansas City Royals, Nori Aoki, Jason Vargas, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer