KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kyle Davies' pitch count was climbing and Royals manager Trey Hillman was potentially facing a tough decision.
Davies hadn't given up a hit through the first five innings, but had thrown over 100 pitches.Ichiro Suzuki quickly ended any debate that Hillman may have eventually faced by getting a swinging bunt single to lead off the sixth. It was the only hit that Davies would give up in Kansas City's 3-1 win over Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners on Monday night."At the rate he was going, if I'd left him in and he hadn't given up a hit until the ninth inning he probably would have been around 150 [pitches]," said Hillman. "A good chance I would have gotten assassinated whether he gets [the no-hitter] or not. That's a tough spot for a manager. It really is."Whatever the skipper wanted was OK with Davies."I go out there and pitch until he takes the ball out of my hand," Davies said. "It's the seventh inning, you pitched six good innings, let the bullpen take over."Billy Butler hit a solo homer and the Kansas City bullpen came through as the Royals held on for the win. He homered leading off the seventh for a 3-0 lead against Hernandez (2-1), who had won nine consecutive decisions since losing 6-1 to Cleveland last Aug. 23. In seven innings, Hernandez gave up three runs -- two earned -- with three walks and seven strikeouts."I was just trying to pitch my game, keep the game close and give my team a chance to come back and win the game," said Hernandez. "I was able to do that. I think I'm going to be fine."Davies (2-1) threw 63 strikes with his 108 pitches, walked three and struck out five before turning a 2-0 lead over to the bullpen starting the seventh."He was tough, throwing 94 miles per hour, threw cutters, had a good feel for his curveball," said Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu. "He pitched a heck of a ball game. You look at no-hits. We got his pitch count up there, but still couldn't do anything."The sparse crowd which sat through fairly heavy rain in the early innings grew expectant when Davies took his no-hit bid into the sixth. But with one out and Rob Johnson on first with Davies' second walk, Suzuki slapped a bouncing ball toward the right side of the infield. The ball slowed in the wet grass as second baseman Alberto Callaspo came running in. He scooped it up with his glove and heaved it to first, but the fleet Suzuki was a couple of steps quicker."After the play, I was thinking, 'Why didn't you dive and try to shovel it over to [first base] or something," Davies said. "I knew [Suzuki] he was going to come up in that situation. He's going to put the ball in play. You just hope he hits it at somebody. And he hit it between everybody. There's no chance of getting him at first base."While the crowd and the manager were all thinking no-hitter, the pitcher was not."You still have Ichiro in the lineup," Davies said. "If you get him out there, you've still got to get him out in the ninth. He's a tough guy to get out. And he's not the only one. You don't think about no-hitters until you get to the ninth with one or two out."Kansas City's much-maligned bullpen preserved the shutout until former Royal Mike Sweeney's pinch RBI single off Kyle Farnsworth with two out in the ninth scored Milton Bradley, who doubled off Farnsworth. Bruce Chen came in and got his first career save when Ichiro flied out.The Royals got an unearned run with the help of Hernandez's throwing error in the first. After Scott Podsednik singled, Butler grounded back to the mound. But Hernandez threw the ball into center field as Podsednik went to third and later scored on Jose Guillen's single.Mitch Maier singled with one out in the fourth and eventually scored on David DeJesus' infield out, making it 2-0 ahead of Butler's home run leading off the seventh.It was the fourth straight loss for the Mariners, who have dropped nine of their last 10 road games.
A heavy rain fell in the second and third innings but the grounds crew stayed put, figuring the showers would quickly blow through the area. ... The Royals won their second in a row for the first time this season. ... Despite the loss, Hernandez recorded his 18th consecutive quality start, extending his team record.