Despite another strong start, Francis still winless
Monday, April 18, 2011
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Jeff Francis has pitched well enough to win all four of his starts with Kansas City.
Francis gave up three runs and six hits in 61⁄3 innings Sunday in a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. In his first four starts, Francis has a 3.00 ERA and has not allowed more than three runs in any outing and has pitched into the seventh every time.
“It’s a shame we can’t seem to score runs for him,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He doesn’t give in. He makes the pitches he needs to make.”
Francis (0-1) left with the score tied at 1, but reliever Blake Wood gave up a two-run single to Brendan Ryan in the seventh.
“I’d like to be able to shut the door a little better in the later innings,” Francis said. “My fastball command wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.”
Ryan hit a 3-1 pitch from Wood.
“Woody’s got a heavy sinker,” Yost said. “We thought we could get the groundball or maybe a strikeout.”
Instead, he elevated a pitch and Francis was charged with the loss.
“It was a well-played baseball game on both sides,” Francis said. “It was a good game for the fans to watch. The guy over that way (Mariners starter Michael Pineda) was pretty darned good.”
Pineda (2-1), a rookie right-hander who held Toronto to one earned run and five hits over 71⁄3 innings in his previous start, limited the Royals to one run and three hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked four to earn the victory. Pineda lowered his ERA to 2.33.
Jamey Wright pitched two hitless innings, while walking two. Brandon League gave up a run in the ninth on Wilson Betemit’s single, but finished for his third save.
Ryan’s single to left in the seventh scored Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo. Smoak led off the inning with a single and advanced to second when Olivo ended an 0-for-27 skid with a single. Ryan Langerhans’ sacrifice bunt advanced both runners.
Wood then replaced Francis and Ryan brought home both runners.
Jeff Francoeur led off the Royals’ fifth with a one-hop double off the right-field fence. He advanced to third on Betemit’s fly out to center. Brayan Pena’s sacrifice fly scored Francoeur for the only run Pineda would allow.
The Mariners tied it in the sixth with Ichiro Suzuki starting the inning with a double down the right-field line. He scored on Milton Bradley’s two-out triple to right. That snapped a Mariners’ 14-inning scoreless drought.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest active streak in the majors and one game shy of his career best.
Notes: RHP David Aardsma, who saved 31 games last season for the Mariners, will begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Tacoma. Aardsma had hip surgery in January and is on the disabled list. ... The Mariners won for only the third time in the past 14 games. The Royals took three of four from the Mariners and are the only team in the American League that has not lost a series this season.