Mariners make quick work of Sox

Mariners make quick work of Sox

SEATTLE -- A year ago, Jose Lopez might have tried to pull the same two-strike pitch on the outside corner that White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle tempted him with Wednesday.

It was that kind of pull-the-ball-or-else mentality that earned the Seattle second baseman a July demotion to Triple-A last season.

Apparently, Lopez learned his lesson.

Lopez's two-run double to right field in the second inning helped Seattle to a 5-1 victory over the defending World Series champions before a crowd of 23,848 fans at Safeco Field. The Mariners took two of three games from the White Sox in the series.

"He's done a lot of good work with [Seattle hitting coach Jeff] Pentland and [Tacoma hitting coach Terry] Pollreisz," Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said of Lopez.

"Jose has been a good pupil. He's gotten some big hits the other way."

Probably none bigger than the one he had Wednesday, especially the way he handled himself against Buehrle, who twice tried to get Lopez to chase pitches on the outside corner.

The Mariners (9-14) had loaded the bases in the inning when Richie Sexson and Carl Everett reached base on consecutive singles to right field. Buehrle then hit Kenji Johjima with a pitch to load the bases.

Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre then grounded out to shortstop to allow Sexson to score for a 1-0 lead. That brought Lopez to the plate.

Lopez fouled off a similar fastball on the outside corner from Buehrle on a 2-2 count, then made better contact when Buehrle (3-1) went right back to the pitch in the same location one pitch later.

Lopez kept his weight back and drove the fastball on the corner to the gap to right field that allowed Everett and Johjima to score for a 3-0 advantage.

"They pitch me outside, I try to hit it outside," Lopez said, smiling. "I just tried to hit the ball hard."

That's something the White Sox (14-7) didn't have much success doing against Seattle starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who allowed one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings as he improved to 2-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.52

"He throw the ball good," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You have to give credit to the guy when he throw the ball well. He kept our team off-balance. We didn't have that many people on base and to score runs, you have to have people on base."

Cut fastballs were the order of the day for Washburn -- who retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. That's not to say that he didn't work himself into at least one sticky situation in the seventh inning, which proved to be his final inning of work.

Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye opened the inning with consecutive singles and the White Sox -- who before the inning had just two hits -- had a rally going.

Joe Crede looked like he might make it three consecutive hits when sent a sinking line drive into center field that looked like it might drop in front of Willie Bloomquist.

"My first instinct was the play it on a hop," said Bloomquist, who was making only his fourth start of the season in center field. "But it hung up long enough for me to make a play on it."

The White Sox eventually scored in the inning when Juan Uribe lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Konerko to score. Rafael Soriano came in from the bullpen to get the final out of the inning.

But it was clear to everyone, especially Washburn, that Bloomquist's catch saved the day.

"If he doesn't make that play, it changes the whole ballgame," Washburn said. "It was a great catch. I think I gave him 10 high-fives."

Seattle figured to have its hands full with Buehrle, who last season tossed a complete-game gem against the Mariners in a game that lasted just one hour and 39 minutes.

It wasn't as if Buehrle pitched that poorly. He allowed four runs on seven hits and didn't walk a batter in seven innings.

Even the home run that he allowed to Raul Ibanez in the sixth inning that made it 4-0 came on a pitch down and away that Ibanez hit the other way.

Seattle scored its final run on Everett's sacrifice fly off Bobby Jenks in the eighth inning.

Seattle's victory ended a nine-game homestand that saw Seattle go 3-6 and lose five games by three runs of less.

The upside? Taking two of three games from the White Sox, who came to Safeco Field on Monday with an eight-game winning streak.

"I don't think our record is indicative of how good a team we are," Washburn said. "We're capable of playing a lot better. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.