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Hernandez, Meche both leave game with stiff backs

• Figure this: It was only the fourth time in team history the Mariners had 18 or more hits in consecutive games.

• Fantasy watch: Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 18 games by homering on Meche's second pitch. He also had an RBI single in Seattle's 18-hit attack.

• Quotable: "To be safe rather than sorry we took him out. He wasn't real happy about that. It started out in Spanish and I ended it in English. So it was OK." -- Manager Mike Hargrove on yanking Hernandez.

-- ESPN.com news services

Mariners 10, Royals 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- That wasn't a pained look on Felix Hernandez's face. It was anger.

Manager Mike Hargrove lifted an exasperated Hernandez against his will in the sixth inning Friday night, opting not to take a chance on hurting his prize right-hander who was making only his third start since returning from the disabled list.

Three Mariners relievers then made a big lead hold up and Seattle beat Kansas City and Gil Meche 10-2, clubbing 18 hits for the second night in a row.

Hernandez (3-2) motioned Hargrove to the mound after giving up two runs on Shane Costa's triple and Alex Gordon's double with one out in the sixth. Hernandez told Hargrove he felt a little tightness in his lower back but had no intention of coming out.

"You saw the game. You saw my emotion," Hernandez said. "My back felt a little bit tired. I said, 'I feel a little bit tired but I can pitch.' He said, 'No, come on, let's go.' I said I can pitch. He said let's go.

"I don't like to be out of the game."

Hernandez was on the DL earlier this year with a right elbow strain.

"When he motioned me out there, my heart stopped there along with everyone else's," Hargrove said. "To be safe rather than sorry we took him out. He wasn't real happy about that. It started out in Spanish and I ended it in English. So it was OK."

Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Vidro each homered and Seattle hit seven doubles while Meche (3-3) had his worst outing of the year, giving up 11 hits and seven runs in just 4 1/3 innings.

The Royals announced during the game that Meche had had stiffness in the lower back. But Meche said he would be fine.

"I tried to stretch it out in the second inning. I tried to get into a groove and loosen up," he said. "I just couldn't push."

His ERA climbed from 2.44, third-best in the league, to 3.18.

"Nothing was sharp and my velocity dropped quite a bit," he said. "The lower back knotted up so bad I just couldn't push. I need to start stretching more until I get comfortable. I'll be fine tomorrow or the next day."

Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 18 games by homering on Meche's second pitch. He and Vidro also had RBI singles in the 18-hit attack. The seven doubles were one short of the team record.

By the time they finished batting in the sixth, every Mariner in the starting lineup had at least one hit. Only Richie Sexson did not score. Adrian Beltre and Yuniesky Betancourt both had three hits and Suzuki and Vidro were among five Mariners who had two hits.

Hernandez, who had a one-hit complete-game shutout at Boston in his only other road start this season, gave up seven hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Sexson made it 2-0 in the second with an RBI double. Jose Lopez had an RBI double and Vidro an RBI single in the fourth. The Mariners took a 10-0 lead with three runs in the sixth on Vidro's homer, consecutive doubles by Jose Guillen and Raul Ibanez and Sexson's RBI single.

It was only the fourth time in team history the Mariners had 18 or more hits in consecutive games.

"We started last night swinging the bats good," Hargrove said. "The thing we're doing is getting good approaches at the plate from everybody. We've been getting deeper into counts and that's something we've been preaching to these guys all year long."

Game notes
It was the 24th leadoff home run for Ichiro, tying him with Lou Brock for 15th all-time. He also made a terrific running catch of David DeJesus' drive to right-center in the fifth. ... Seattle put LHP Horacio Ramirez on the 15-day DL with left shoulder tendinitis and recalled LHP Jon Huber from Triple-A Tacoma. ... The Royals' 17 triples are tied with Florida for most in the majors.