Wilson, Sweeney rally behind shaky Hernandez to power Mariners past Royals

SEATTLE -- Mariners designated hitter Mike Sweeney and his 36-year-old bad back barreled in from third base to score -- on a tapper back to the mound.

Fellow sub Josh Wilson had his first three-RBI game in more than two years. Kansas City's David DeJesus almost got run over by a mascot driving a four-wheeler. And Ichiro Suzuki showed frustration at being held out by the Mariners to preserve his health by huffing through his translator after his fifth consecutive day off, "I'm not here to play soccer."

Other than that, Seattle's 6-3 victory over the Royals on Friday night was ho-hum.

Sweeney, a former Royals All-Star, burned his old team with the wildest run of Seattle's surprising season.

Playing against a right-hander because Ken Griffey Jr.'s 39-year-old knee is stiff and sore, Sweeney took off after Royals starter Brian Bannister threw to first on a comebacker hit by Wilson, who was giving recently gimpy shortstop Jack Wilson the night off. Sweeney belly flopped past catcher Miguel Olivo's tag to put Seattle up 2-0, 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.

"Awesome," Seattle ace Felix Hernandez said, still beaming after the game.

"I don't know in my lifetime I'll ever see Sweeney do that again," said rookie manager Don Wakamatsu, Oakland's former bench coach who hand-picked the oft-injured veteran from the Athletics to fix Seattle's fractured clubhouse this season. "That's what makes him special. ... It electrified us."

Sweeney said he took off because he could tell Bannister's throw to first was going to be lazy.

"I don't know if I've ever done that one," Sweeney said.

As for his rollicking teammates' reaction, Sweeney said: "Well, Griffey wanted me to get drug tested. The other 24 guys on the team high-fived me."

Hernandez was far from sharp, throwing first-pitch strikes to only 11 of the 27 batters he faced. He had a good reason for his seven so-so innings: a searing sinus headache.

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.

"It was my day to pitch. I've got to do it," he said about the headache, which he called cured by finally winning.

David Aardsma allowed a leadoff single in the ninth before finishing for his 31st save in 35 chances to keep Seattle 7½ 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.

Bannister (7-11), the son of 1982 Mariners All-Star Floyd Bannister, lost his fourth consecutive decision in front of more than a dozen family members. He allowed seven hits and six runs -- five earned -- in 6 2/3 innings.

DeJesus doubled home Kansas City's first run in the third. He singled ahead of a homer by rookie Mitch Maier off Hernandez that made it 5-3 in the fifth.

It was Maier's second career home run, both in the last four days after none in his first 345 plate appearances.

It was the fifth homer in two games for Kansas City, which entered the series Thursday next-to-last in the AL in homers.

DeJesus also survived almost getting run over by the Mariner Moose's ATV between innings. The mascot was cruising around the infield warning track but had to slam on the brakes while DeJesus grabbed his glove in the dugout and ran onto the field in his path. A 5-foot long skid mark remained in front of the dugout well after the game.

Coco Crisp, then with Boston, was hit but not injured by the Moose in a similar incident two years ago this month. That prompted the Mariners to ground the Moose's ATV until recently.

"I looked up and he was flying by on the quad," DeJesus said, laughing. "Yeah, that would have been pretty crazy."

Game notes
Wakamatsu said the team's cautious approach with Suzuki's tight calf could keep the nine-time All-Star on the bench all weekend. ... 3B Adrian Beltre (bruised testicle) became eligible to come off the disabled list, but likely won't be ready until perhaps Tuesday. ... OF Jose Guillen (sprained knee), on the DL since July 23, impressed the Royals while running the bases before batting practice. Manager Trey Hillman said Guillen could return during the series at Oakland early next week.