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Reliever Tony Zych survives shaky ninth inning in Mariners victory

By Bob Dutton Tacoma News Tribune

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It is the nature of spring training that Mariners reliever Tony Zych might have proved more Friday by turning a three-run lead into a 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Zych gave up three straight hits to start the ninth inning, which scored one run and put runners on second and third. But he then closed out the victory by retiring the next three batters – two on strikeouts.

“He went to the slider today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They were on the fastball. They went up looking for it, and they squared a few up on him. That’s why you have to have the second pitch – and the command of it.”

Zych ended the game by stranding the tying run at third when he struck out Grant Green by throwing sliders on 3-1 and 3-2 counts.

“In the pen,” Zych said, “my fastball felt great. It felt great in warmups. I actually thought the pitches were fairly decent. They just came out swinging, and they got on a couple of them.

“I had to make the adjustment. In that situation there, nobody wants to give up any runs, but the truth is you’ve got to win the game there. Three runs ties it, but two doesn’t kill us. We still get a win.”

The Mariners (6-4) never trailed.

Hisashi Iwakuma opened the game by breezed through three shutout innings. That followed a spring debut last Sunday when he pitched two perfect innings against Texas.

“I think my fastball was pretty sharp,” he said. “I think the ball came out of my hand pretty well. I was able to command like I did last time. I felt I was able to throw a little harder today. So, overall, I think it was good.”

The Mariners caught an immediate break when Ketel Marte’s leadoff drive to left turned into a double when Mac Williamson lost the ball in the sun. Leonys Martin then sent a hard grounder up the middle for an RBI single.

Seager’s two-out single in the third ignited a two-run burst. Franklin Gutierrez followed with a slicing drive into the right-center gap that eluded a diving Gorkys Hernandez for an RBI double.

Stefen Romero made it 3-0 with a line-drive single to right.

The Giants (5-6) closed to 3-2 on Hunter Pence’s two-run homer in the fourth against Joel Peralta, who retired the first two batters before yielding a double to Buster Posey.

Chris Taylor’s two-out bloop double in the eighth against Clayton Blackburn boosted the Mariners’ lead to 4-2. Taylor scored when one-day call-up Tyler O’Neill followed with an RBI single.

That proved to be the winning run.

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