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TB@SEA: Peguero belts his second homer of the game

SEATTLE -- A day after manager Eric Wedge talked about how his young left fielders needed to make adjustments, rookie Carlos Peguero re-adjusted a couple of James Shields' pitches over the outfield wall at Safeco Field, as the Mariners broke out the bats in an 8-2 win over the Rays on Thursday night.

The 24-year-old Peguero popped a pair of home runs as the Mariners went deep four times against Shields, who came into the game with the third-lowest ERA in the American League at 2.15.

Designated hitter Jack Cust and first baseman Justin Smoak also homered for a Seattle team that hadn't hit more than two in a game this season. The last time the Mariners hit four home runs in one game was Sept. 22 of last year in Toronto.

The 6-foot-5 Peguero, called up from Triple-A three weeks ago to help replace Milton Bradley, now has four home runs and 12 RBIs in 63 at-bats, though he's still hitting just .190 after Thursday's 2-for-4 outing.

"I am the new player and I have to learn every day," said Peguero. "Never stop learning and just be patient, and a lot of stuff happens. A couple days back, I didn't feel good at the plate. But every day, I try to learn, learn, learn more about this game.

"It's tough, but I have to come to the field with my mind positive and be the player I want to be."

He was the player the Mariners would love him to be on Thursday, as he became the 17th rookie in club history to hit two home runs in a game.

The offensive outburst was welcomed by Felix Hernandez, who breezed through seven innings to improve to 6-4 on the season. Hernandez, who has the second-lowest run support of any AL starter since the start of the 2010 season, gave up five hits and two walks while striking out 11.

"That was good," a smiling Hernandez acknowledged in the winning clubhouse. "It's been a while since we've had that many runs in one game. You can't get relaxed, because you've still got to make your pitches. But it was good."

After throwing a season-high 128 pitches last week against the Yankees, Wedge welcomed the chance to go easy on Hernandez, and lifted him after seven innings and 97 throws.

Asked how good "The King" was on this night, Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach just laughed.

"We knocked him out after seven [innings] and 11 punchouts," said Shoppach, who accounted for three of the strikeouts himself.

Seattle has now won 12 of its last 15 games, and sits 1 1/2 games back of AL West-leading Texas at 29-27.

Most of that success has come on the back of a pitching staff that posted a 2.82 ERA in May. But this time, the bats came out to play, as well.

Home runs by Cust and Peguero staked Seattle to a 5-0 lead in the second inning, with Cust going solo for his second long ball of the season and Peguero following with a three-run shot.

Peguero, who came in with an 0-for-14 streak and .169 batting average, unleashed another homer leading off the fourth, and Smoak followed with his team-leading ninth home run later that inning.

"We hit some home runs, and we haven't done that a lot this year," said Cust. "Hopefully, it's a sign of good things to come. It was a good feeling, especially against a good pitcher like that. He got rattled a little bit and couldn't find his command."

Chone Figgins, back in the lineup after being given a two-game break by Wedge, got into the act, as well, with an RBI single in his first at-bat in the second, and finished 1-for-4.

Second baseman Adam Kennedy went 3-for-4 with an RBI double, raising his batting average to .299.

Shields hadn't allowed more than five runs in his first 11 starts, but coughed up eight runs (seven earned) and seven hits in four innings before being lifted.

Shields has had troubles at Safeco Field before, but not of this sort. The right-hander lost two previous starts against Hernandez in Seattle, but by scores of 1-0 and 2-1, while allowing just four hits each game.

This time, everything went Hernandez's way -- as he won for the first time in front of the new "King's Court" cheering section at Safeco Field, on the day his teammates each received "Larry Bernandez" shirts, as well, from infielder Jack Wilson.

"I was disappointed last game [against the Yankees], because I wanted to win in front of my 'King's Court,'" Hernandez said with a smile. "But today was good. They enjoyed it out there. Now, we get Larry's T-shirt. Weird things here."

Did he ever think his Bernandez TV commercial would take off the way it has?

"No, I never thought that," Hernandez laughed. "Now, Larry is very popular, you know?" Comments