Guillen powers Royals; Ichiro matches record with 8th 200-hit season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jose Guillen wasn't sure if he'd be able to play after being sick the night before, and still didn't feel well before Wednesday night's game.

He ended up feeling well enough to play and was good enough to give the Kansas City Royals the big hit they needed.

Guillen hit a key two-run single after the one-day illness, helping the Royals win their sixth straight with a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

"I was in the lineup, I just played, it's as simple as that," Guillen said. "I felt good, decided to go in and just went."

Guillen didn't play Tuesday night against the Mariners, a late scratch that drew some suspicion after manager Trey Hillman said it was a managerial decision.

The mercurial outfielder said he couldn't play because he was sick, an account Hillman backed up on Wednesday, and he was back in the lineup hitting third and playing right field.

The Royals struggled through the early innings against Seattle starter Ryan Rowland-Smith, staying close in a tight game on Ryan Shealy's fourth homer in five games. Guillen then provided the big hit in the seventh inning, lining a two-out, two-run single off Miguel Batista just past shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

"He's had some big at-bats and that was a huge at-bat just out of the reach of Yuniesky," Hillman said. "Obviously, he had enough on it and he squared up on it and stayed inside a tough pitch."

Rowland-Smith pitched six solid innings and Ichiro Suzuki was 3-for-3, reaching 200 hits for the eighth consecutive season to match Willie Keeler's major league record.

The Mariners (57-94) still lost their seventh straight, moving a step closer to their first 100-loss season since 1983.

"The losses have mounted up. They are tough losses," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "We had that game in hand in the seventh inning and it got away from us. It's too bad. We had some great performances."

Starter Gil Meche (12-11) kept the Royals close.

The right-hander was knocked around his last outing, giving up six hits and 10 hits in five innings to Cleveland on Friday. Meche appeared to be in for another long night after walking Suzuki to start the game, then giving up Jose Lopez's two-run single.

Meche settled down after that despite working deep into most counts, benefiting from double plays in the fourth and fifth innings. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out seven and walking three on a night when he didn't have his best stuff.

Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his 40th save in 43 chances.

"Coming out of the pen I felt great and get out there on that mound I just couldn't quite get it," said Meche, who has 74 strikeouts his last 10 starts. "First pitch of the game runs a foot-and-a-half to the right and I couldn't get on top on balls, but we got some good double plays and I got some good strikeouts when I needed to."

Rowland-Smith was sharp after getting two tough-luck no-decisions his previous two outings.

The left-hander had the Royals out on their front feet with off-speed pitches most of the night, allowing a leadoff double to David DeJesus in the first and nothing else until Shealy hit a solo homer to left in the fourth.

Rowland-Smith got in a bit of trouble in the sixth, putting two on with two outs after two walks. Betancourt helped him get out of it, making a diving stop up the middle, then throwing to beat Mark Teahen by a step for the final out.

Rowland-Smith didn't come out for the seventh, working around four walks to put the Mariners in position for a rare win.

But just like the previous two starts, when he allowed three runs each, Rowland-Smith left with a lead and ended up with a no-decision.

Kansas City loaded the bases against Roy Corcoran (5-2), helped by Betancourt's fielding error on a potential double-play ball. The Royals tied it at 2-all on Mike Aviles' chopper, then Guillen lined a two-run single to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games.

Alberto Callaspo added a run-scoring single in the eighth off Batista to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and put the Royals up 5-2.

"It seems like that has kind of been the trend, the no-decisions," Rowland-Smith said. "I'm just trying to consistently get deep in the game without any runs."

Game notes
Seattle LHP Erik Bedard will have exploratory arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Sept. 26. He's been on the DL since July 5 with shoulder tightness. ... Suzuki is 10-for-15 in his career against Meche. ... Seattle has lost nine straight road games.