Seattle's Weaver shuts out Pirates

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, June 21, 2007

SEATTLE - The Pirates went up against one of the worst pitchers in the majors Wednesday, and made him look like an ace.

Jeff Weaver got his first victory in eight starts this season, and snapped a career-worst six-game losing skid, as the Seattle Mariners beat up the Pirates, 7-0.

"It was a good time to put things together and show what I'm capable of doing," Weaver said.

The right-hander came into the game with a 10.97 ERA, second-highest in the majors among pitchers with more than a half-dozen starts. He sat out a month with shoulder tendinitis.

But the Pirates managed just four hits, two of them singles, and two walks. They seemed in a hurry to get out of Safeco Field before the sun set over Puget Sound, hacking at pitches early in the count.

"I don't think they were impatient at-bats," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "The guy did nothing but pound the strike zone. He threw a ton of first-pitch strikes. And when he got to two strikes, he dropped down and threw quality pitches."

The crowd of 23,553 rose to its feet with two outs in the ninth, and roared when Jason Bay lined out with runners on second and third to end it.

Weaver got a season-high five strikeouts and shaved more than two points off his ERA.

"That was the Jeff Weaver I remember from Detroit in 2001," Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson said. "He was pretty dirty back then. Whatever struggles he's had, he didn't look like that tonight."

It was Weaver's first shutout since Sept. 12, 2005, when he was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers with Tracy as his manager.

"It's kind of ironic that the thing that's helped me out today was checking out some old Dodgers film and seeing exactly how I was throwing the ball then," Weaver said. "Once I saw that, things kind of clicked."

Weaver pitched well last year after a midseason trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. But until last night, Weaver had given the Mariners no return on the one-year, $8.3 million deal he signed in the offseason.

Weaver had been giving up runs in bunches, allowing three-plus runs in seven of the 32 innings he had pitched. The Pirates, however, were unable to get even two runners on base in an inning.

Paul Maholm (3-10) became the second pitcher in the majors to reach 10 losses this season -- the "leader" is former Pirate Kip Wells (2-11), who Tuesday was removed from St. Louis' rotation.

Maholm went seven innings, and gave up six runs (four earned) on nine hits.

"I thought I threw good," Maholm said. "What can you do when the guy throws a four-hit shutout• It's baseball and there's something to learn from and I'll learn from it and go out there next time."

Seattle built a 4-0 lead by the third inning, making the most of just three well-struck balls.

With one out in the second, Kenji Johjima hit a bouncer to third. Jose Bautista curled back and snagged the ball, glanced down at it, then uncorked a throw toward first base.

The ball sailed over Adam LaRoche's head and into the stands. Johjima took second on the error.

Adrian Beltre lined a single past Bautista into left field, scoring Johjima. Jason Bay's throw to the plate bounced and ticked off Johjima and rolled away from catcher Ronny Paulino. Beltre wound up at third base. Bay was charged with the error.

Next came an infield single from an unlikely source: Richie Sexson, the Mariners' biggest home run threat. Sexson tapped the ball into the no-man's land between Maholm and Bautista. Beltre scored.

With one out in the third inning, Ichiro Suzuki beat out an infield single. Suzuki stole second and third, then scored on a ground out.

The next three Mariners reached base. Raul Ibanez singled sharply to center, Jose Guillen walked and Johjima lashed an RBI double to left.

In the fourth, Sexson mashed a long, solo homer to left.

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