Red-hot Saunders, M’s on roll

MARINERS 5, Indians 3: Michael Saunders smacks pair of 2-run home runs as Seattle improves to 13-1 in past 14 games at Safeco

McClatchy news servicesAugust 21, 2012 

SEATTLE – Michael Saunders hit a pair of two-run home runs to help Seattle beat the Cleveland Indians, 5-3, on Monday night for the Mariners’ sixth consecutive victory.

Saunders also hit a two-run homer Sunday and has a career high 13 homers.

Eric Thames also had a solo shot for the Mariners in the sixth as well as a triple in the eighth.

The Mariners have won 13 of their past 14 games at Safeco Field. It’s the best home stretch over 14 games in club history. They are 23-13 since the All-Star break. The Indians have lost six in a row.

Charlie Furbush (5-2) earned the victory in relief of starter Kevin Millwood.

Tom Wilhelmsen worked the ninth and had trouble closing. Former Mariners player Casey Kotchman singled with one out and Ezequiel Carrera doubled to right, with Kotchman taking third. Pinch hitter Jack Hannahan, another former Mariners player, loaded the bases with a walk.

Jason Kipnis, who had a pair of RBI, then grounded into a double play. Wilhelmsen picked up his 18th save in 20 opportunities.

Joe Smith (7-4) took the loss in relief of starter Ubaldo Jimenez.

Kipnis started the game for the Indians with a shot off the right field foul pole. It was his 12th home run and first career leadoff homer.

After Saunders’ third-inning, two-run homer to center put the Mariners up 2-1, the Indians jumped back ahead with a two-run fifth.

Kotchman walked with one out then Carrera beat out a right-side bunt. With one out, Kipnis singled to left, scoring Kotchman from second. Asdrubal Cabrera then singled to center, scoring Carrera from second for a 3-2 lead.

FELIX HONORED

A night before he makes his 26th start of the season, the American League recognized his 25th and named Mariners ace Felix Hernandez its player of the week.

“I’ve been pitching seven years, and that’s the first one I’ve gotten” Felix said.

Asked about the award, manager Eric Wedge laughed and said, “You would think so!”

Felix may have been happier with the news his wife Sandra and children Mia and Abraham flew into Seattle from Venezuela and will be at today’s start against Cleveland.

“The last game was the first home game they missed all season,” Hernandez said. “I’m getting them T-shirts like everyone else is going to get, and I’ve got my yellow shirt already.

“Then there’s that ‘Felix-ing’ thing.”

Ah, that.

After the final pitch of his perfect game against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Felix struck a pose unique to him – one leg uplifted, both arms straight up, his right index finger aimed at the sky.

“(Franklin) Gutierrez asked me, ‘Why did you do that?’ and I told him, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Felix said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I’ve seen pictures of people doing it all over the place. It’s pretty awesome.”

ON TAP

Seattle will host Cleveland in a 7:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Cleveland’s Roberto Hernandez – formerly known as Fausto Carmona – (0-1, 7.50 ERA) vs. Hernandez (11-5, 2.60).

Staff writer Larry LaRue contributed to this report.

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