Sloppy Mariners beat Royals

PEORIA, Ariz. — The Seattle Mariners pulled off their second straight ninth-inning rally to win, scoring three times to beat the Kansas City Royals 10-9 on Thursday.

That’s about the best that could be said of a game that included sordid pitching and spells of sloppy defense.

n Felix Hernandez, pitching for the first time in 10 days when he was on the mound for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, gave up 12 hits and seven runs in six innings. He struggled to keep the ball down and paid for it. On the positive side, he threw 95 pitches and seemed on track to be the opening-day starter, although manager Don Wakamatsu wasn’t ready to announce that.

n Mark Lowe gave up two runs in the ninth inning, leaving Wakamatsu still unsure what he’ll do about the closer job. Lowe, who was the winning pitcher when the Mariners rallied in the bottom of the ninth, has a 6.55 spring ERA and has given up five hits and three runs in his past two outings, covering 3 1/3 innings.

Asked if he’s any closer now to coming up with a closer than he was two weeks ago, Wakamatsu said no.

“Mark’s got to command the baseball and he’s got to get it down to be considered,” Wakamatsu said.

Lowe has been up and down this month, his success mostly dependent on the sharp break of his sinker and slider. He said he’s confident he’ll have those pitches when the team gets away from the dry conditions in Arizona, where the ball doesn’t break as much.

n David Aardsma continued to pitch well, throwing the only clean inning of the game by a Mariners pitcher. He has allowed one hit and one walk in his past three innings of work, and has a 2.45 spring ERA.

n Mike Sweeney’s two-out single drove home Ronny Cedeno with the winning run off Royals left-hander Tim Hamulack, giving the Mariners a 14-12-2 exhibition record. Earlier in the inning, Cedeno hit a two-run double into the left-field corner to tie the score.

n The Mariners were sloppy in the field, giving away sure outs. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt let a pop fly fall between them, and second baseman Jose Lopez didn’t tag out a base stealer despite a good throw from catcher Kenji Johjima.

“There were a lot of little things that popped up that we need to work on,” Wakamatsu said.

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