KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When a gray cat scampered onto the field and momentarily halted play during yet another dreadful effort by the Kansas City Royals, one thing puzzled Trey Hillman.
"I was surprised it wasn't entirely black," deadpanned the manager with the second-worst record in the majors.
Ichiro Suzuki had his major league-leading 52nd multi-hit game and Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez drove in three runs apiece to lead the Seattle Mariners to an 11-6 victory Wednesday night that dropped Hillman's hapless Royals to 1-10 in their last 11 home games.
Everyone in the Seattle lineup had a hit and only two failed to score as the Royals' overall record dropped to 41-66, second only to the Washington Nationals for worst in the majors. If they do not come out of this nosedive, the Royals are headed for their fifth 100-loss season in eight years after breaking spring training hoping to compete, finally, in the AL Central.
"This is the major leagues," said Hillman, coming under increasing criticism in his second year as manager. "You've got to play like a major league team and in order to do that you've got to put your offense, your defense and your pitching all together and be more consistent than we've been able to be."
Luke French (2-2) worked five innings in his first start since being acquired from Detroit and gave up four runs on nine hits, including two-run home runs by Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, who also had an RBI single.
Kyle Davies (3-8) had a nightmarish start on the day he was called up from a successful six-week stint in Triple-A. The right-hander retired the first seven batters, gave up two runs in the third, then fell apart in a six-run fourth while allowing eight runs on eight hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
The Mariners pounded out double-digit hits for the second straight night and have won five of eight.
"It was a nice win to get two in a row here and get back on track," said manager Don Wakamatsu. "With what's going on with our starters right now, we need everybody to contribute and step up and take some stress off the bullpen."
Suzuki was 2 for 5 with two runs and an RBI.
The first boos from the crowd of almost 28,000 came when Davies made an errant pickoff attempt that wound up moving a runner from second to third, and then uncorked a wild pitch that let him trot home.
"I was too quick going to second base," said the right-hander. "We had a pickoff play on and I turned a little too quick and threw it in the dirt. Then that [wild pitch] ... it was one of those things where I was trying to strike the guy out and it just got away from me a little bit."
Wild pickoff throws and sliders that bounce in the dirt are not uncommon. But what happened in the seventh inning was something Hillman admitted he'd never seen before.
Seattle's Rob Johnson singled into center and Mitch Maier hurled the ball home as Jack Wilson stopped at third. But catcher Miguel Olivo then threw the ball to second to try to get Johnson, who was safe as Wilson bolted for the plate. Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's throw home was late, allowing Wilson to score. Then Johnson was safe at third when Olivo's throw there was late. The crowd booed loudly.
"It all starts with the missed cutoff man," Hillman said. "Nothing good usually comes out of it when you miss a cutoff man. It appeared to [Olivo] we had a shot at second. We didn't. Then Yuni brought the ball up the first base line a little bit. Sloppy."
Wilson saw it not as sloppy play on KC's part, but smart baserunning on his.
"When I saw him come up and throw to second, I thought I had a good jump to try to score," he said. "Aggressive baserunning is what they teach us."
Hillman is confident the fans are not going to be disappointed in his team's effort regardless of how bad things get.
"I still see hustle," he said. "There's been a couple of letdowns because of the dismal performance. But I still see enough signs that these guys still have enough pride to continue to play the game hard."
Hillman was back after missing two games to attend to a family matter. ... French is the 11th starting pitcher for Seattle this season, two short of the team record. ... The Royals lead the majors with 58 wild pitches and are tied for the lead with 11 passed balls. ... Mark Teahen and Betancourt were the only Royals starters without a hit.