SEATTLE (AP) - Jason Vargas took to the mound looking to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters early against the struggling Florida Marlins.
His first 13 pitches of the game all found the plate, and the barrels of the Marlins' bats.
Vargas (5-5) allowed three runs on four hits in the first inning as the Florida Marlins cruised to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
The game was the second of a three-game series with Florida playing as the home team with National League rules. The Marlins were displaced because of an upcoming concert at their stadium this week.
Florida led off the bottom of the first with three singles to load the bases. Hanley Ramirez, who entered with a .341 batting average against left-handers, drove the first pitch he saw from Vargas into the gap in right-center field for a two-run, ground-rule double.
Mike Stanton followed with a sacrifice fly to give Florida a 3-0 lead.
``The only pitch I really felt I missed was that ball Hanley hit into the gap,' Vargas said. ``Other than that I felt that I was making the pitches that I wanted to, they were just hitting them.'
The Marlins used an aggressive approach to get to Vargas, who allowed four runs on eight hits over six innings of work for Seattle.
``I was in the strike zone so they were getting to balls and able to put some runs on the board early,' Vargas said.
The Mariners' offense wasn't able to provide much support either.
Marlins starter Chris Volstad pitched into the seventh inning to win for the first time since April 26. Leo Nunez pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 21st save of the season.
Volstad allowed just two runs and five hits over 6 2-3 innings to muzzle a Mariners' offense that has become ice-cold.
Since taking a 5-1 lead over Washington in the series opener against the Nationals on Tuesday, the Mariners have hit .170.
``We've been facing pitchers like that all this week and haven't done anything with it as a team so it's kind of frustrating not making adjustments as a group,' Adam Kennedy said.
``Not getting a hit until the fourth or fifth inning is just not acceptable.'
The Mariners didn't even get a baserunner until the fourth inning when Wes Helms bobbled a one-hopper for an error that allowed Ichiro Suzuki to reach base. It was Volstad's only blemish through the first four innings.
Carlos Peguero got Seattle on the board in the top of the fifth inning with a line-drive home run that barely cleared the fence down the right field line for the Mariners' first hit and first run of the game.
Volstad hit his RBI single in the sixth inning to score John Buck from second and make it 4-1.
In the bottom half, Chone Figgins delivered a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded that scored Dustin Ackley from third and chased Volstad. Randy Choate loaded them again when he hit his first batter, pinch-hitter Justin Smoak, with a pitch. But Suzuki hit a meek chopper to third base to end the inning.
``We had an opportunity there late with Smoak up there and first and third,' manager Eric Wedge said. ``He got clipped by the slider and (Ichiro) wasn't able to do anything there.'
``I felt like we did have some pitches to hit that we mis-hit. ... We really were never able to get anything going.'
Edward Mujica pitched a scoreless eighth before Nunez came on.
Notes: Marlins OF Logan Morrison was not in the starting lineup tonight. It was the first game he didn't start since returning from the disabled list with a left foot strain on May 13. Morrison's average has dropped from .327 to .267 over the last 40 games since his return to the lineup. ... OF Emilio Bonafacio moved from center to left field with OF Dwayne Wise getting the start in center field. ... Smoak was a late scratch from the lineup with an illness. Adam Kennedy replaced him at first base with Chone Figgins being inserted in the lineup at third base.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved