BY John Hickey 05:47PM 03/09/2011

Fister’s nice day backed by three homers

Three big homers back Doug Fister’s strong four innings as Seattle wins third consecutive Cactus League game by beating Dodgers, 9-4.

Doug Fister - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 2

Doug Fister gave the Mariners four strong innings against Dodgers /Ben Van Houten / Mariners

Backed by the most explosive Seattle offense in the better part of two weeks, the Mariners reeled off their third consecutive win Wednesday, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-4 behind a strong start from Doug Fister.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander, who had struggled in earlier outings, turned in his best effort of the spring. Fister, a strong contender to open the season in the starting rotation, allowed just one run in four innings, allowing just two hits – one a homer by Rod Barajas – with no walks and four strikeouts.

The right-hander threw 52 pitches, including 34 strikes and was the beneficiary of some unexpected power on the part of the Mariners.

“Fister threw the ball very well,’’ manager Eric Wedge said. “He controlled the ball game and moved the fastball around. His secondary stuff was very good, too.’’

Facing a Los Angeles lineup that included many of the Dodger regulars, Fister kept the ball down, pitched to contact and in general was much improved over his last start five hits and two runs in three innings.

Seattle, which came into the game homerless in the last seven games (not counting “B’’ games), hit three into the cheap seats, including one by second baseman Jack Wilson, who didn’t hit one all last year in 61 games for the Mariners. To break a 1-all tie, Wilson went deep against Dodgers All-Star reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.

Wilson was at second base rather than shortstop as Wedge is trying to get a feel for what the veteran can do. Wilson has never played an inning at second base andsaid after the game that the last time he played second base 19-year-old Seattle catcher Steven Baron “was 3.’’

Wilson said he doesn’t feel natural at second, where the throws are shorter, where there in an increased emphasis on turning double plays and where the spin on the ball is backwards (at least to a shortstop).

“It’s new, it’s different,’’ Wilson told the Mariner media. “The team is trying to take a look at guys everywhere. There’s new management, a new manager, new coaches and they want to see different combinations.’’

DH Jack Cust, who had just one RBI (and eight strikeouts) in his first 19 at-bats as a Mariner this spring, added a two-run bomb in the sixth, making the score at the time 4-1.

Rookie third baseman Alex Liddi made his first statement of the spring with a grand slam that put the game out of reach of the Dodgers with Seattle up 8-1 on Los Angeles.

“Liddi has all the physical tools,’’ Wedge said. “He’s been very impressive the entire camp. I love the way he played third base in the `B’ game (Tuesday).’’

In addition to the power, the top of the lineup, Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins, clicked, too. In the first, Ichiro was safe on an error, took third on a single by Figgins and scored on a passed ball.

Two innings later, Ichiro and Figgins singled back-to-back for another first-and-third situation, again with none out, but this time Seattle got nothing from it. Figgins was caught stealing, Franklin Gutierrez grounded out and Cust struck out.

Between them, the top three men in the starting lineup, Ichiro, Figgins and Gutierrez, went 4-for-9 with three runs scored.

NOTES: Milton Bradley and his wife both had been scheduled to meet Wednesday with prosecutors from Los Angeles County in the wake of Bradley’s January arrest amid charges of making felony threats. He was in the Seattle clubhouse Wednesday morning but was not in the lineup and wasn’t on the traveling squad to face the Dodgers. Bradley has said he wouldn’t talk about any non-baseball subjects. … Left-handed reliever Garrett Olson pitched out of an eighth-inning jam – bases loaded, two out, two runs in – by getting Marcus Thames to fly out. … Last year’s Seattle shortstop, Jack Wilson, got another start at second base, this time with Josh Wilson starting at shortstop. … First baseman Justin Smoak got the day off, allowing Adam Kennedy to play first for the day. … The Mariner P.R. staff went into the books to discover that Tuesday’s 1-0 win over San Francisco was just the second shutout in spring training by Seattle pitching since 1994 and the first-ever spring nine-inning 1-0 win. … Chris Ray, one of the candidates to be the Mariner closer in April while David Aardsma recovers from left hip surgery, threw in a simulated game in Peoria Wednesday morning and reportedly showed no ill effects from a sore calf muscle. … Aardsma, meanwhile, played catch with another injured reliever, Shawn Kelley, Wednesday morning. … Lefty Erik Bedard, who has yet to give up a run in the Cactus League this spring, will throw Thursday against the Angels in Peoria.

Twitter: @JHickey3


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