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Waechter coughs up lead in Royals’ 10-9 loss to Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. | Royals reliever Doug Waechter has seen more than enough of the Peoria Sports Complex after failing to protect a multi-run lead in the ninth inning for the second time in four days.

The Mariners erased a two-run deficit Thursday against Waechter before pulling out a 10-9 victory when Mike Sweeney _ yes, that Mike Sweeney _ pumped an RBI single into right field against lefty Tim Hamulack.

All three runs were charged to Waechter, who failed to protect a three-run lead Monday in the ninth inning of a 9-7 loss to San Diego, which shares this complex with the Mariners.

Seattle, 14-12-2, never led until Sweeney’s two-out single but erased deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 7-2 before its winning rally.

Mitch Maier and Ross Gload had positioned the Royals, 14-10-3, for a victory by delivering run-scoring hits in the top of the ninth. Maier’s one-out single snapped a 7-7 tie before Gload sliced an RBI double into the left-field corner.

Waechter just couldn’t hold it. His two appearances this week in Peoria were his first since returning from a blister on his middle finger, which surfaced shortly after he worked a scoreless inning Feb. 28 against the Padres in Surprise.

The Royals had 17 hits and pushed their lead to 7-2 when Mike Aviles capped a four-run sixth with a three-run homer. The Mariners promptly pulled even with five runs in their sixth against Sidney Ponson and Victor Marte.

Ponson was sharp early in his first start against big-league competition since signing March 17 with the Royals as minor-league free agent. He allowed just four singles and two unearned runs through five innings before weakening in the sixth.

“I was just opening up my shoulder,” Ponson said. “I wasn’t tired. I just tried to be too nasty and, sometimes, too much is no good. Before that, I worked fast and got a lot of ground balls. If it wasn’t for the sixth inning, I’d be really happy.”

Ponson issued a one-out walk before Russell Branyan homered to left-center field. Two more singles finished Ponson. Both runners scored along with the tying run against Marte, who yielded an RBI double and a two-run single before ending the inning.

That left Ponson with a line that showed six runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Royals roughed up Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for seven runs and 12 hits in six innings. They scored single runs in the first and third innings on RBIs by José Guillen and Coco Crisp. After Seattle pulled even in the third, the Royals regained the lead on Aviles’ sacrifice fly in the fourth.

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