Baseball / Sports

Zunino's HR helps lift M's over White Sox, 4-1

SEATTLE--For four frustrating innings Friday night, it was more of the same for the Seattle Mariners against Jose Quintana.

The Chicago White Sox left-hander picked up where he left off in July, using a low 90s fastball, sharp slider and good command to frustrate Seattle hitters.

Coupled with his previous start of 72/3 shutout innings against the Mariners, Quintana was working on 12 straight scoreless innings when Mike Zunino and his freakish strength put an end to the Mariners' misery in the fifth inning.

With 2-0 count and runners on first and second, Zunino gave yet another tantalizing display of his power potential, driving an outside fastball to right field and deep into the stands for a three-run homer, powering the Mariners to a 4-1 win.

It was Seattle's fourth straight win and seventh victory in its last 10 games. They improved to 45-10 in games where they score four runs or more and 61-54 on the season.

And if the Mariners continue to get homers and production form Zunino, expect that win total to grow.

The Mariners are far from a powerful lineup--ranking in the lower half of the American League in home runs with 94, but the young catcher can drive the ball out of the park.

His 18 homers has him tied with Cincinnati's Devin Mesoraco for the most by a catcher in the majors. It's the second most by a catcher in a season in franchise history. Miguel Olivo hit 19 in 2011.

Quintana had cruised through four innings, allowing just two hits. And his teammates had given him a 1-0 lead. But he walked Chris Denorfia to start the fifth inning, which left him shaking his head in disgust. His frustration grew when third baseman Conor Gillaspie dropped a routine pop up by Logan Morrison to put runners on first and second.

Quintana then fell behind 2-0 to Zunino on two pitches well out of the zone. Knowing Quintana didn't want to run the risk of loading the bases, Zunino looked for a fastball and got it. It turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead.

His Mariners' teammates tacked on another run, loading the bases against a flustered Quintana and getting a sacrifice fly from Kendrys Morales to score Chris Taylor from third.

A 4-1 lead? Well that was plenty for starter Hisashi Iwakuma and the Seattle bullpen.

Iwakuma worked seven innings, giving up one run on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

His lone run allowed came in the fourth inning. Dayan Viciedo, who is as strong as Zunino, if not stronger, drove the first pitch he saw from Iwakuma deep into the seats in right-center field. It was Viciedo's second homer of the series. And third homer in as many games.

But that was all the White Sox would muster against Iwakuma. He retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced to improve to 10-6 and lower his earned-run average to 2.86. He joins Felix Hernandez (12-3) and Chris Young (10-6) with double figure wins.

After giving up a meaningless run on Thursday night, the Mariners bullpen returned to its stingy ways. Charlie Furbush and Yoervis Medina combined for a scoreless eighth inning and Fernando Rodney came on to notch his 32nd save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

(c)2014 The Seattle Times

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