BALTIMORE (AP) — Steve Johnson struck out nine over six innings in his first major league start, Matt Wieters tied a career high with five RBIs and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners 9-2 Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.
Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds homered and Adam Jones had three hits for the Orioles, who have won five straight and eight of 10. It was Baltimore’s 60th victory of the season, compared to 69 all last year.
The Orioles built a 7-0 lead by the fourth inning against former teammate Kevin Millwood (4-10) and cruised to the finish in their sixth sweep of 2012.
Johnson (1-0) gave up two runs, five hits and two walks in his second big-league appearance. The 24-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to sub for Tommy Hunter, who was scratched because he threw in the bullpen Tuesday night in anticipation of entering a game that lasted 14 innings.
Johnson is the son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, who now works for the team’s TV network. Steve Johnson’s debut as a starter came exactly 23 years after his father made his first career start in Baltimore, a complete-game win against Minnesota.
Although the younger Johnson didn’t go the distance, the right-hander made the most of his 97 pitches. The Baltimore native blanked Seattle on three hits through five innings before giving up a two-run homer to Kyle Seager in the sixth.
It was Seager’s team-high 13th homer, the second in two nights. He finished with three hits in the Mariners’ fourth straight defeat.
Johnson needed only six pitches to strike out the first two batters in the first inning, then went to 0-2 on Jesus Montero before giving up a single. Johnson followed that with a three-pitch strikeout of cleanup hitter John Jaso.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the bottom half. With two on and two outs, Wieters hit a liner to right that sent Eric Thames running toward the wall. As he leaped to make the catch, the ball popped out of his glove for a two-run double.
Seattle used a single and two walks to load the bases with one out in the second, but Johnson worked out of trouble.
The Orioles made it 4-0 in the third. Markakis led off with a triple and scored on a single by J.J. Hardy, who took third on a double by Jones and came home on a groundout by Wieters.
In the fourth, Reynolds hit a solo shot, Omar Quintanilla singled and Markakis drove a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall. Millwood got the final two outs but did not return for the fifth.
Millwood pitched for Baltimore in 2010, going 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts.
Wieters hit a two-run double in the seventh off Josh Kinney.
NOTES: The Orioles placed INF Ryan Flaherty on the 15-day DL with a bacterial infection and recalled RHP Miguel Socolovich to strengthen the bullpen after Tuesday night’s marathon. In that game, Seattle’s run of 21 straight wins when getting at least 15 hits came to an end. … Seattle has a day off Thursday and will face the Los Angeles Angels on the road Friday. Baltimore opens a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night. … Quintanilla got two hits after a 3-for-24 skid.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)