Washburn solid, but Mariners fall

Washburn solid, but Mariners fall

SEATTLE -- Baseball is a game of redemption, and that element has manifested itself in the fortunes of Seattle reliever R.A. Dickey and Kansas City starter Zack Greinke.

The two pitchers, whose careers have close parallels, each played a role Monday in the Royals' 5-1 victory over the Mariners. Greinke (3-0) threw a complete-game five-hitter to become the fifth American League pitcher to win three games. He also is the league's ERA leader at 0.74.

After an efficient 12-pitch first inning, Mariners' starter Jarrod Washburn (1-2) struggled through a 30-pitch second inning. Billy Butler opened with a home run to left, extending his hitting streak to 13. After former Mariner Jose Guillen's double into the right-center gap, another former Mariner Miguel Olivo crushed a home run to left-center for a 3-0 lead.

"Really, one bad pitch, the changeup to Olivo," Washburn said. "I don't like second guessing things, but I wish I wouldn't have thrown a changeup in that situation. But I said yes when he [catcher Kenji Johjima] called it. It cost us the game.

"It tends to catch up with you more times than not, if you're not 100 percent confident in throwing a pitch."

Dickey, who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma before the game, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, making Royals hitters search futilely for his fluttering knuckleball.

"It's the first time I've been on a big league mound in a regulation game in a long time," said Dickey. His last appearance was April 6, 2006, with Texas against Detroit. He gave up six home runs in 3 1/3 innings and was sent to the Minors the next day. Monday was his first day back.

"I had just started my journey on it [knuckleball]," he said. "It's been a long time, but I feel good with it. At times it was real painful.

"I have a wife and three kids now. A lot of sacrifices have been made, so it was emotional."

Greinke also has had to struggle along the way. He went 5-17 in 2005 then spent much of 2006 on the disabled list or in the Minors. He pitched in only three big league games that season.

Last season, he was used mostly in relief, but thus far in 2008, he has been one of the league's dominant starters.

"We know he's one of the best young pitchers in the league. We saw it tonight," Mariners' manager John McLaren said. "We've been well aware of him. He had great potential. Now he's putting it all together."

Richie Sexson, who struck out, popped out and hit into a double play against Greinke, added, "I always thought he'd be a good pitcher if he could figure it out. He's figured it out."

The Mariners have been dealt a couple aces the past two games. Sunday, they faced American League ERA leader, Joe Saunders, in a 10-5 loss to the Angels. Then on Monday, Greinke entered the game as the new ERA leader at 0.60 ERA. It's now 0.78.

He induced 16 ground-ball outs as second baseman Mark Grudzielanek had 10 assists, one short of the Royals record set by Cookie Rojas on May 17, 1973.

"He has the ability to changes speeds. It was 90 [mph], 94, 92, 72, 69 82," Sexson said. "Then [he threw] the kitchen sink, slider, curve, change, cutter, sinker, four-seamer. So you really never knew what was coming and he was throwing them all for strikes."

The Mariners, hitting into three double plays to stymie rallies, scored their run in the third on Ichiro Suzuki's right-side RBI groundout. Brad Wilkerson scored from third as Ichiro's speed averted another double play.

Ryan Rowland-Smith did a nifty job working out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh. He gave up a sac-fly to David DeJesus, with one run scoring, but then got Grudzielanek on a popup to first and induced Mark Teahen, on a 3-0 count, to end it with a ground out to second.

"I thought he'd [Teahen] just take it, but ended up rolling over it," Rowland-Smith said.

Ray Corcoran allowed the first run in six appearances in the eighth before Dickey finished it.

"There's some satisfaction there, some reward there," Dickey added. "It's bittersweet. I'm not here to pick up a paycheck. I want to win, but from a personal point of view, it was satisfying."

The crowd of 16,751 on a chilly night was the third smallest in Safeco Field history.

Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.