SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Erasmo Ramirez is not taking anything for granted even though he appears to have the inside track on returning to the Seattle Mariners' rotation.
Ramirez gave up two runs in six strong innings - ending his scoreless streak at six-innings over three outings - and the Mariners beat the Colorado Rockies 5-2 Saturday.
The right-hander struggled with the Colorado lefties, giving up a pair of doubles to Charlie Blackmon and an RBI double to Reid Brignac in the sixth, and chided himself for waiting until runners were in scoring position to make his best pitches. Projected as the No. 4 or 5 starter for the Mariners, he allowed a run and three hits to the first five hitters he faced before settling down.
``I was missing the strike zone when I was ahead, and they made me pay for it,' said Ramirez, who started eight games for the Mariners last year. ``So I said `OK, you either have to execute your pitches or someone is going to score here.
``I don't know why I wait until I get in trouble sometimes,' he said. ``I was lucky some of the hits didn't go up and out. But it gave me a chance to start over and go pitch by pitch and do what I should do all the time.'
Ramirez knows a rotation spot isn't a given despite his strong spring.
``You can't act like you've made this time. You have to make the decision tough. But we have a lot of arms on this team, a lot of talent and you have to be sure you show the manager I'm ready and willing to fight for what I have,' he said.
Kendrys Morales hit his third home run and Mike Jacobs also homered for the Mariners. Jesus Montero and Carlos Pequero each added two hits, an RBI and a run scored for Seattle. Michael Morse was on base all three times and raised his spring average to .375.
``We're in a division where you have to score runs and some of the guys who were here last year got some seasoning and believe in their ability to have success,' Morse said. ``You add in a guy like Jason Bay and he can take a weight off the younger guy's shoulders and let them do what they can do.'
Blackmon, back in a game for the first time since March 1 because of an infection in his right knee that required a hospital stay, now has six hits and four doubles in his nine Cactus League at_bats.
``I hope I can make up some of the at_bats that I missed. It's tough,' the former Georgia Tech star said. ``As a baseball player you're worried about pulled muscles, ligaments . then you get a cut sliding, some irritation on your skin and it winds up messing with your spring.'
Drew Pomeranz allowed nine hits and four runs in five innings and saw his spring ERA rise to 5.54. But Colorado manager Walt Weiss said Pomeranz hasn't done anything to hurt his chances to be in Colorado's rotation.
``I thought he was solid,' Weiss said. ``It got away from him a little in the fifth (three runs), but he did some good things out there. It's a big arm; we're just working on a little bit more polish.'
NOTES:- Rockies left-hander Christian Friedrich, who has yet to appear in a game this spring due to back problems, will make his debut on Monday either with the Rockies against Cincinnati or in a minor league game. . The game drew a crowd of 12, 427 to Salt River Fields.
The Associated Press News Service
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