Freddy rocked...again

The last time the Mariners lost a game was last Wednesday. On the mound that day against Cleveland was Freddy Garcia. Today he returned to the hill and the results were the same. Still one of the top teams in baseball at 29-16 on the year, Seattle needs to find out what's wrong with their once highly-regarded right-hander.

You could almost hear the silence, and could certainly feel the tension. Freddy Garcia had walked two of the first three batters he faced in Wednesday's game against Kansas City, and the Safeco Field crowd of 31,251 sat at the edges of their seats. Was "The Chief" going to get out of the jam, or was it just the beginning of another one of his disastrous starts?

The next two batters to come to the plate answered that question. Raul Ibanez singled to center field to plate on run, and Carlos Beltran followed with a three-run homerun over the right field wall to make it 4-0.

Fans showered Garcia with boos, the second consecutive time he's heard such a response in the "friendly" confines of Safeco.

Though the Mariners made a game of it later on, the home team never fully recovered from the nightmarish opening inning and went on to lose 14-5.

Beltran led the homer-happy Royals with two long-balls and six RBI, helping snap the Royals (25-19) four-game losing streak. Seattle (29-16), meanwhile, had its six-game winning streak stopped.

Four other Royals – Ibanez, Angel Berroa, Joe Randa and Michael Tucker – added homers for season-high total of six.

While the lopsided final score would indicate a blowout of a game, the contest was a nail-biter through the first seven innings.

The Mariners clawed back with a run in the first on an RBI single by Bret Boone which scored Carlos Guillen to make it 4-1. Then, after Tucker's second-inning two-run homer made it 6-1, Seattle responded again in prompt fashion. With one out and two runners on, Boone came through again with a blast to the deepest area of the ballpark. It cleared the wall, was estimated at 419-feet, and made the score 6-4.

Gullen led Seattle with three hits and raised his batting average to .314.

Edgar Martinez drew the Mariners to within 6-5 with a RBI double, scoring Guillen in the fifth. But that's as close as Seattle would come.

Garcia (3-6) settled down after the forgettable first two innings, but with two outs and a 1-and-2 could on Royals third baseman Joe Randa, the Venezuelan left a pitch out over the plate and Randa deposited in the right field bleachers to extend the Kansas City lead to two.

Garcia left after the innings, and his final numbers didn't look pretty: seven innings, seven hits, seven earned runs. In the process, his season ERA continued to rise. It now stands at 5.90.

Mariners manager Bob Melvin elected to bring in Giovanni Carrara in the eighth inning to keep the deficit at one. It didn't work. Ibanez led off the inning with a homer to right, his third in the past two days against the Mariners. Still only 8-5, the game was still in doubt. Carrara then loaded the bases without getting an out, but forced catcher Mike Difelice to ground into a 5-2-3 double play. But just when it looked like the Mariners would escape further damage, Royals rookie shortstop Angel Berroa belted a Carrara offering over the right-center field fence for three more KC runs.

Julio Mateo came on in the ninth but, like Carrara, couldn't find any success on the mound. He served up Beltran's second homer, another of the three-run variety, before getting the final out.

Chris George started for KC, and got the win despite giving up four earned runs in five innings of work. He improved to 5-3 on the year.

Royals relievers Sean Lowe, Jason Grimsley and Mike MacDougal held the Mariners scoreless for the final four innings to preserve the win.

Game Notes:

Ichi-Streak: Ichiro singled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 12-games. Entering Wednesday's game, Ichiro was batting .358 in the past 25 games. Nomar Garciaparra, the star shortstop for Boston, currently has the longest hitting streak in the majors at 22 games.

Hit Parade: With 10 hits Wednesday, the Mariners have reached double-figures in hits in 12 of the 18 games they've played in May.

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