Lee complete game, Saunders homer carry Mariners

SEATTLE -- Cliff Lee is collecting complete games so routinely even superstars can't believe how great he is right now.

"No," Ichiro Suzuki said, shaking his head when asked if he's ever played behind a pitcher this dominant. "Not someone like this."

Lee's self-assessment? Just an aw-shucks and a shrug.

Seattle's prized winter acquisition struck out nine in his second consecutive complete game, helping the Mariners beat the Chicago Cubs 8-1 on Wednesday night for their sixth consecutive win.

"Yeah, it went good," Lee said. "Throwing strikes. Going at them. ... I feel good. I like where I'm at."

Tyler Colvin hit his ninth homer in the second for Chicago, which has lost four of five to drop to a season-low nine games under .500. It was the first run allowed by the Mariners in 25 innings, since the fourth in Saturday's win over the Reds.

Rookie Michael Saunders homered and drove in four runs for Seattle. Suzuki had a two-run single.

Lee (6-3), likely to be a hot commodity ahead of next month's trade deadline, did allow nine hits. But he got three double plays and walked none -- again -- in his American League-best fourth complete game this season and No. 17 for his career. He lowered his ERA to an AL-best 2.39.

The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner has 76 strikeouts against just four walks this season. That's an unheard of ratio of 19-to-1. Only one starter since 1901 has had a double-digit figure in that ratio over an entire season: Bret Saberhagen, who struck out 143 and walked 13 for Kansas City in 1994.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had one more jaw-dropping stat about Lee: He had an 0-2 count on 19 Cubs.

"You just don't see that," Wakamatsu said. "Pretty special."

It's the way of the week in Seattle. The Mariners have allowed a total of three runs in their six-game winning streak against St. Louis, Cincinnati and Chicago.

Too bad they aren't in the NL Central. In the AL West, they remain 13 games behind surging Texas.

Saunders walked with the bases loaded during Seattle's four-run fourth and hit an RBI double off Randy Wells (3-6) in the sixth. He hit a two-run homer in the eighth, setting a career high for RBIs.

Wells pitched six innings, equaling a season high by allowing six earned runs and 10 hits.

"You feel a little defeated when you give up four runs against Cliff Lee," said Wells, pointing to the pivotal fourth.

The Cubs, in search of consistent offense all season, even failed to score when they got two doubles in the seventh. Geovany Soto led off with one, then made it to third on Alfonso Soriano's broken-bat blooper behind second that turned into a two-base hit when Seattle failed to cover the bag.

But Soto and Soriano were stranded when Lee retired three straight.

Asked if he saw a "let up" in his slumping team, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said, "Let up? What I see is, uh, a lack of getting key hits."

Game notes
Felix Hernandez goes for the series sweep and Seattle's longest winning streak since June 23-July 1, 2007, on Thursday against Ted Lilly. Lilly is starting because former Mariners pitcher Carlos Silva was pushed back to Saturday with a sore hamstring. ... Seattle RHP Doug Fister completed a bullpen session and Wakamatsu said he will come off the DL to start Saturday at Milwaukee. Fister hasn't started since May 31 because of tightness and fatigue in his throwing shoulder.