Willis pitches 2 perfect innings as Reds beat Mariners 3-1


by Associated Press


Posted on March 4, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 4 at 8:43 PM

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dontrelle Willis is making strides as a non-roster invitee with the Cincinnati Reds, trying to regain the form that made him a two-time All-Star.

Willis tossed two perfect innings in relief Friday in a 3-1 win over Seattle.

Kris Negron singled, stole a base, scored and hit a sacrifice fly for the Reds, who won their third straight spring training game. The Mariners have lost three straight.

"All the young kids are looking good," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Just keep playing."

Cincinnati scored twice off Mariners starter Doug Fister in the second inning. Ramon Hernandez led off with a double down the left-field line and scored on single by Fred Lewis, who took second on the throw home. He advanced on a groundout and scored on Negron's sacrifice fly.

Fister struggled again in his second spring start. The right-hander, who was 6-14 last season, has allowed four earned runs on eight hits in 5 total innings.

"Going out there, it was a struggle to get the ball down," said Fister, who has a 7.20 ERA in spring training. "Trying to get that slider down and in to the right-handers, struggling with it right now. Trying to get location back.

"It's just fine-tuning," added Fister, who was 6-14 in 28 starts last season. "It really is just a matter of a couple of tweaks here and there and just a matter of repetition."

Ichiro Suzuki drove in a run with a sacrifice fly for Seattle. Right-hander Chad Reineke, the Reds' starter, allowed a run on three hits in three innings.

NOTES: AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez will make his first spring start Monday when the Mariners play Oakland in Phoenix. Hernandez has thrown live batting practice and a simulated game so far. ... LHP Jason Vargas, bound for the Mariners' starting rotation, threw a simulated game Friday, his first of spring training. ... LHP Aaron Laffey made his Mariners spring debut Friday after arriving in a trade with Cleveland on Wednesday. Laffey gave up a double and hit a batter in a scoreless inning. ... The Mariners signed LHP James Paxton, a fourth-round pick in June 2010 who also pitched in the Independent American Association. Paxton will report to camp Saturday. ... Reds starters have walked one batter over 16 innings in spring games.