Meche, Everett lead M's over A's in alphabet battle

SEATTLE (AP) -- Carl Everett's first homer with Seattle was just
a small part of this victory.

Everett hit a two-run drive and every Mariner in the lineup had
at least one hit in Seattle's 6-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on
Thursday night.

"I don't know if it was just my turn. It just so happened my
hit scored two runs," Everett said. "We put six runs on the board
and not to be overlooked is our pitching."

The balanced hitting backed another strong outing for a Seattle
starter, this time Gil Meche.

Everett's homer was part of a three-run second inning that was
all the offense Meche needed. The right-hander pitched into the
sixth, allowing just two runs and four hits, as the Mariners won
their third straight.

In the first four games, Seattle's starters have a combined 3.55
ERA in 25 1-3 innings pitched. Meche (1-0) struck out six and
walked three, relying heavily on his offspeed pitches. Meche said
he couldn't remember throwing fewer fastballs, going mostly with a
changeup that was working well during spring training.

Seattle's bullpen allowed one hit in 3 2-3 innings. J.J. Putz
retired all four batters that he faced for his first save, striking
out the side in the ninth.

"I kept them off balance for the most part throughout the
game," Meche said. "I'm trying to go with what's working for me
right now and spring training my changeup was phenomenal."

Raul Ibanez doubled and tripled and scored twice for Seattle.
Kenji Johjima, Yuniesky Betancourt and Ichiro Suzuki all had two
hits as the Mariners finished with 13 hits, their third consecutive
game in double figures.

Betancourt, Johjima and Richie Sexson all had RBI singles, as
the entire lineup had a hit for the second time in three games. And
the Mariners didn't just sit on their early lead.

"To add the runs on is huge. You really couldn't write it up
better than it happened tonight," Seattle manager Mike Hargrove
said. "Everybody is doing what they're supposed to do in the

Oakland starter Esteban Loaiza (0-1) struggled and couldn't make
it out of the fifth. In 4 2-3 innings, he allowed five runs and
nine hits, four of those for extra bases. He walked three and
struck out one.

Loaiza has a history of starting the season strong. Of active
pitchers with 20 or more decisions in April, Loaiza entered
Thursday with the second-highest winning percentage (.783) behind
only Pedro Martinez of the Mets.

But last year with Washington, Loaiza was 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA in
April, and his first season with Oakland didn't start any better.

"He had a couple of misses on location," Oakland manager Ken
Macha said. "Not any big innings, but he got his pitch count up."

Adrian Beltre ended a 10-pitch at-bat to start the second with a
line-drive single to left. Loaiza was ahead of Everett in the count
1-2, but left a fastball over the middle of the plate that Everett
hit into the right-field seats.

After an out, Jeremy Reed tripled to right-center and Betancourt
singled through the drawn-in infield to give Seattle a 3-1 lead.

Everett is now 7-for-12 with two homers in his career against
Loaiza, who saw his career ERA against Seattle balloon to 7.49, the
highest of any opponent.

"He knows me and I know him," Loaiza said of Everett. "What
else can I say? He's a good hitter."

Ibanez doubled to lead off the fifth and was at third with two
outs. Instead of pitching to Everett, Macha went to the mound and
had Loaiza intentionally walk Everett to bring up Johjima.

On the first pitch, Johjima singled between shortstop and third,
scoring Ibanez. Brad Halsey entered and retired Reed to end the

Eric Chavez hit his second homer of the season with one out in
the sixth. It was the final batter Meche faced, having thrown 101

Marco Scutaro opened the game with a triple and scored on Mark
Kotsay's groundout. Chavez also doubled in the first.

Game notes
Chavez moved into a tie with Sal Bando for seventh on the
Athletics' career homer list. Both have 192. ... Suzuki got his
first stolen base of the season in the first inning. ... Melhuse
singled to center in the third in his first at-bat of the season.
... Four Mariners -- Ibanez, Johjima, Reed and Suzuki -- have hit
safely in all four games.<