Meche goes seven strong as Royals rack up another road loss

SEATTLE (AP) -- After coming down with a bad case of the flu,
Raul Ibanez still felt a little weak Monday.

So the veteran changed his approach, much to the Seattle
Mariners' benefit.

Ibanez had three hits, including a two-run single, and Gil Meche
allowed one run and four hits in seven innings to lift Seattle to a
4-1 win over Kansas City.

"It's better for your swing sometimes," said Ibanez, who was
out of the lineup Sunday, breaking a string of 243 consecutive
games played. "You try to do less and just get the fat part of the
bat on the ball, relax a little bit and not try and do too much and
over swing."

Jose Lopez added a pair of doubles, and his two-out shot off the
wall in left in the eighth inning scored Yuniesky Bentancourt to
give Seattle a 3-1 lead. Richie Sexson followed with a single to
score Lopez.

Meanwhile, Meche broke a two-game losing streak and denied the
lowly Royals a chance to finish their longest road trip of the
season at .500. Kansas City went 4-6 on its 10-game trip, after
winning two of its first 20 road games this season. Seattle took
three of four in the series.

"You've got to go out and throw strikes, especially against a
ball club that's struggling a little bit," said Meche, who threw
60 of his 96 pitches for strikes. "It was a game we felt like we
should have won."

In seven of his last nine starts, Meche (5-4) has allowed three
earned runs or less. He struck out six and walked two. J.J. Putz
pitched the ninth for his eighth save in nine attempts.

While Meche was solid, Seattle's best pitching came from
reliever Rafael Soriano in the eighth. Lefty George Sherrill took
over for Meche to start the inning, but walked David DeJesus.
Soriano entered and struck out Tony Graffanino, Doug Mientkiewicz
and Reggie Sanders on 13 pitches. Soriano sprinted off the field,
leaping over the first-base line.

"He was outstanding. He got three strikeouts in the heart of
their order and was clutch," Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said.

Kansas City starter Mike Wood (3-1) joined the rotation after
the Royals' moved struggling right-hander Denny Bautista to the
bullpen over the weekend.

Making his second start of the season, Wood looked the part of a
seasoned starter, scattering four hits through five innings and
allowed only one base runner past first. Ibanez was stranded at
third in the second inning.

"He always seems to be able to do what we need to get done,"
Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said of Wood. "He did great."

Seattle finally got to Wood in the sixth and knocked the righty
from the game. Ichiro Suzuki doubled on the first pitch of the
inning. He was thrown out at third trying to advance on Adrian
Beltre's grounder to short, but Lopez followed with a double to
left, and Bell pulled Wood.

Lefty Jimmy Gobble entered to face the left-handed Ibanez.
Gobble fell behind 3-1 before Ibanez grounded a single to center
scoring Beltre and Lopez. Left-handers had been hitting .176
against Gobble.

Ibanez called how he felt on Sunday "brutal." He singled in
the second and fourth as well.

"Sometimes it works out that way," Ibanez said. "You feel
weak and you try to do less."

The Royals put together a brief rally in the seventh, with
consecutive singles by Matt Stairs and Shane Costa. Stairs scored
on Mark Teahen's groundout to second -- a sliding stop by Lopez --
and Meche got out of the inning with a pop out by Angel Berroa and
a strikeout of John Buck.

Despite the loss, the Royals believe the road trip overall was a
positive step.

"Things are getting better," Sanders said. "We are trying to
figure out how to turn this thing around. It's coming. Things are
headed in the right direction."

Game notes
Suzuki was selected American League player of the week on
Monday. He hit .440 and scored nine runs last week. It was the
second time he's received the award in his career. ... Wood made 10
starts last season in August and September, going 2-4. He had a no
decision in his only other start this season on April 15 against
Tampa Bay. ... Kansas City last went .500 on a road trip July 14-21
of last year when it went 4-4 against Detroit and Cleveland.