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Top '13 pick Gray sharp in Cactus League debut

Righty delivers two scoreless innings, as does Anderson in first Rox start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Robinson Cano and Dustin Ackley continued their hot Cactus League starts by combining for four hits and four RBIs as the Mariners topped the Rockies, 8-1, in a split-squad game on Monday at Peoria Stadium.

Cano, baseball's biggest offseason free-agent signee, went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles before being replaced in the fifth inning. The five-time All-Star second baseman is 5-for-9 (.556) with three RBIs in four spring games.

Ackley, transitioning to left field this spring, was also 2-for-3 with a three-run double, putting him at 6-for-10 (.600) with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs in four games.

Rockies southpaw Brett Anderson, obtained in a trade with the A's in December, threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut. Anderson gave up two hits -- Cano's infield single in the first and a sharp base hit up the middle by Willie Bloomquist in the second -- along with a walk and two strikeouts while throwing 36 pitches.

But the Mariners broke the game open with five runs in the fifth off Rockies reliever Rob Scahill, who surrendered four hits and two walks before being replaced with two outs.

Mariners starter Blake Beavan allowed one run in three innings in his second outing -- and first start -- of the spring. He gave up a one-out single to center fielder Brandon Barnes in the first, but erased him on a double-play grounder by Corey Dickerson.

The Rockies got a one-out triple by Ben Paulsen in the second, but again Beavan avoided damage with a pair of infield popouts. Colorado finally got to Beavan for a run in the third when Charlie Blackmon hit a two-out double and scored on Barnes' second single of the game.

Beavan is in the mix for a starting job this spring, particularly with injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker.

"I just need to keep my knee healthy and go out and there and compete and throw strikes," Beavan said. "That's what I do."

Mariners center fielder Abraham Almonte made a nice running catch of a deep drive by Charlie Culberson leading off the third and also pulled in a ball at the wall hit by Michael McKenry in the fourth.

The Mariners tied the game in the fourth when Corey Hart walked with one out and eventually scored from third on a double steal of sorts, with Hart crossing the plate after outfielder Xavier Avery stole second and drew a throw that bounced away from shortstop Cristhian Adames.

Seattle cleared its bench in the final four innings, with Minor League shortstop Tyler Smith hitting an RBI triple in a two-run sixth that pushed the lead to 8-1.

Barnes finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and stolen base for the Rockies and is hitting .571 (4-for-7) in three Cactus League games.

Right-hander Jon Gray, the Rockies' first-round Draft pick and third overall choice in 2013, made his debut with two scoreless innings while giving up two singles and a walk with two strikeouts in the seventh and eighth.

Seattle's top 2013 Draft pick, third baseman D.J. Peterson, also made his first Cactus League appearance as one of the Minor League players called up for the game and popped out against Gray in the seventh.

Up next: Hoping to fight off multiple challengers for his rotation spot, Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio will make his spring debut against the Giants at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. MT in an exclusive audio webcast on Also, veteran closer LaTroy Hawkins is set to make his spring debut. Hawkins was a setup man for the 2007 team that went to the World Series and is still going strong at 41.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
Read More: Colorado Rockies, Jon Gray, Brett Anderson, Brandon Barnes, Rob Scahill