SEATTLE - Fill-in Josh Wilson had his first three-RBI game in more than two years, and former Royals All-Star Mike Sweeney burned his old team with a hustle play to score one of his two runs in the Seattle Mariners' 6-3 victory over Kansas City on Friday night.
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was far from sharp, throwing first-pitch strikes to only 11 of the 27 batters he faced in seven so-so innings.
Yet Hernandez (13-5) allowed the lowly Royals just five hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out six in his first win since Aug. 1, following three no-decisions and a loss.
Sean White pitched a perfect eighth. David Aardsma allowed a leadoff single in the ninth before finishing for his 31st save in 35 chances to keep Seattle 7 1/2 games behind front-running Boston in the AL wild-card race.
Mariners slugger Russell Branyan left the game before the fifth inning. The team announced Branyan felt a "tweak" in his back while checking his swing during his second and final at-bat, a strikeout in the third inning. He will be re-evaluated Saturday.
Wilson, giving recently gimpy shortstop Jack Wilson the night off, and Kansas City's defense hurt Royals starter Brian Bannister (7-11). Branyan dropped a tricky bunt single down the third-base line in the second inning to beat a shift, and Sweeney singled. They both advanced on a wild pitch by Bannister, who crossed up catcher Miguel Olivo on a catchable pitch in the dirt. Bill Hall and Wilson then had consecutive RBI groundouts.
Wilson got help on his. Sweeney, the 36-year-old designated hitter against a right-hander because Ken Griffey Jr.'s 39-year-old knee might be more sore than anyone's letting on, took off after Bannister threw to first on Wilson's tapper back to the mound. Sweeney belly flopped past Olivo's tag and then popped up so excitedly his batting helmet flew off. He yelled and pumped both fists as he ran into a Mariners dugout that was roaring over the old man's guts and gusto.
An error by third baseman Mark Teahen, who let Jose Lopez's chopper go under his glove, allowed Franklin Gutierrez to score with two outs in the third to put Seattle up 3-1.
After a single by Sweeney and double by Hall began the bottom of the fourth, Wilson singled to make it 5-1.
David DeJesus doubled home Kansas City's first run in the third. Then, after the Royals' leadoff batter survived almost getting run over by a four-wheeler driven by the Mariner Moose mascot between innings, DeJesus doubled in the fifth. Rookie Mitch Maier then hit a 2-2 slider from Hernandez into the right-field seats for his second career home run.