Kotchman's hit guides M's to 4th straight win
SEATTLE (AP) - Casey Kotchman and Franklin Gutierrez got the run scoring hits, only after Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley did the leg work.
Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu wasn't kidding when he told his team in spring training they were going to run.
Kotchman snapped a tie with an RBI double in the seventh off the glove of leaping Detroit right fielder Ryan Raburn, and the Seattle Mariners won their fourth straight with a 4-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday night.
Bradley scored on Kotchman's double, but only because he walked on a 3-2 pitch from Detroit starter Justin Verlander (0-1) to open the inning, then stole second early in Kotchman's at-bat. When the ball trickled from Raburn's glove, Bradley, who was tagging up, was still able to score from second.
The aggressiveness proved beneficial in the first and eighth innings as well. Suzuki stole third after doubling to open the game and scored on Gutierrez's single. Figgins did similar in the eighth, stealing second and coming home on another run scoring hit from Gutierrez.
Seattle might have only 11 stolen bases in 12 games, but they've come in important situations.
"That's the good part about when a manager tells you to be aggressive," Figgins said. "He said in spring training, 'when you can run, run, no matter what the situation is."'
Suzuki finished a home run short of the cycle - about the only hitting mark missing from his stellar career - and scored twice for Seattle. Suzuki lined Verlander's first pitch of the bottom of the first for a double, tripled and scored in the third and singled in the fifth. He walked in the eighth in his final at-bat.
"He has been a superstar for a while now. He is just a great player," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He can beat you so many ways."
That was enough offense for Seattle starter Ryan Rowland-Smith and a trio of relievers. Rowland-Smith continued the trend of strong starting efforts, pitching into the seventh and giving up just four hits and two runs before the Mariners bullpen did the rest.
Brandon League (2-0) took over for Rowland-Smith and got out of trouble in the seventh. Mark Lowe put two runners on in the eighth, but escaped trouble with a nifty 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. David Aardsma picked up his fifth save in five chances pitching the ninth.
"These guys are playing hard right now, whether it's taking the walk or pressurizing the defense," Wakamatsu said.
Kotchman was 2 of 12 on the Mariners current homestand when he came through with his third double of the season. He lined Verlander's off-speed pitch to deep right field. The drive hit Raburn's glove but he was unable to secure it crashing into the wall, allowing Bradley to score the go-ahead run.
Other than Suzuki and Kotchman, Verlander was stellar, looking like the Tigers' ace after two sub-par outings to start the season. Verlander threw seven innings - the first Detroit starter to work more than six this season - giving up seven hits and three runs. He struck out six and walked one. Following Suzuki's triple leading off the third, Verlander set down 12 of the next 13 before Kotchman came through in the seventh.
"I kind of need to combine where I've been; tonight my breaking ball and changeup were a lot better than it has been but my fastball was not very good. Not the velocity or anything but I mean, (but) trying to (throw) away and it goes in, trying to go in and it goes away," Verlander said. "The command of my fastball wasn't there tonight."
Rowland-Smith was Verlander's equal for much of the night. He kept the Tigers hitless into the fourth when Ordonez led off with a homer to deep left. In the fifth, Rowland-Smith left two on base with a strikeout of Austin Jackson and pop up by Raburn.
Rowland-Smith was pulled after Scott Sizemore led off the seventh with a slicing double to right-center on a 3-2 pitch. Sizemore later scored on a single by pinch-hitter Johnny Damon to pull even at 2-2.
NOTES: Seattle DH Ken Griffey Jr. wore special camouflage cleats as part of an Armed Forces Night celebration. ... Detroit C Gerald Laird played despite a sore back that caused him to leave Friday's game in the seventh inning. "If you see my catcher come out of the game you know something isn't right," Leyland said. ... Wakamatsu said RHP Ian Snell was fighting the flu, but still expected him to start on Sunday.