SEATTLE -- Everett Teaford threw his left arm into the ring for the 2012 Royals rotation with a strong performance on Sunday.
Teaford, in his first Major League start, pitched five shutout innings and got the victory as the Royals defeated the Seattle Mariners, 2-1, to split the four-game series at Safeco Field. The Royals finished their trip, which began at Oakland, with a 4-3 record.
A 27-year-old rookie, Teaford got his first start (after 23 relief outings) in place of fellow lefty Danny Duffy, who was shut down for the season. It was an impressive showing for Teaford, who had made 99 Minor League starts but none since last April. He held the Mariners to three hits, all singles, and rang up five strikeouts, three in his last inning, with one walk.
But Teaford didn't want to make too much of it.
"One start, anybody can be on and one start, anybody can be horrible," he said. "So I don't necessarily think today makes me the next coming of Tom Glavine just because I won one start."
Maybe not, but manager Ned Yost said Teaford likely would get another start before the season is over and figure in the mix next February at Surprise, Ariz.
"When we come to Spring Training next year, he'll definitely get a look as a starter from me," Yost said.
The crowd of 20,951 included Jim Teaford, Everett's father who flew in from a conference he was attending in New Orleans for the occasion.
"To have your 100th start be your first big-league start and the first big league win of your career," Teaford said. "My dad was here and that was awesome to have him in town. You can't write up a better story than today."
Teaford won his matchup with another left-handed rookie, the Mariners' Anthony Vasquez, who was making his fourth big league start.
The Royals scored in the third inning after two outs, on Alcides Escobar's single and Alex Gordon's RBI double. The double gets an asterisk, however, because it looked like an ordinary fly-ball out until left fielder Carp lost it in the sun. The ball fell safely as Escobar scooted home ahead of hurried and off-target throws by the Mariners.
"A sun ball finally went our way," Gordon said. "Esky did a good job of running the ball out and scoring on that play."
That was the only run against Vasquez to the point where he departed in the seventh inning, after Brayan Pena singled and the pitcher botched Chris Getz's sacrifice bunt to put two runners on base with no outs. Reliever Shawn Kelley got Escobar to bunt foul for a third strike but gave up a run-scoring double to Gordon -- this one off the left-field wall.
"I had some guys in scoring position the at-bat before that [but struck out] so I just wanted to come up big right there," Gordon said. "I got a good pitch to drive the other way and I was able to do that."
Teaford was pulled after 73 pitches, well over the 50 to 60 originally envisioned by Yost.
"We had the one-run lead and I wanted to do everything I could to at least give him an opportunity to get his first big league win," Yost said. "I probably wouldn't have gone much farther than 75 pitches with him. But he did it."
Teaford gave credit to a tight defense which included fine catches by Gordon and Escobar and right fielder Jeff Francoeur pulling off a dazzling double play.
Is Francoeur picking on the Mariners' Dustin Ackley or is it just that unlucky No. 13 on Ackley's back? Or just a funny coincidence?
"I'm sure he doesn't think it's so funny," Francoeur said.
Francoeur, who made two stunning catches on Ackley in Friday night's game, this time caught Ackley straying on the bases. Francoeur rushed in to snag Mike Carp's sinking liner in the fourth inning as Ackley, who'd led off with a single, headed toward second base. Ackley stopped and retreated but Francoeur's throw to Eric Hosmer doubled up Ackley. As Hosmer tumbled off balance onto his backside, plate umpire Ted Barrett, who had hustled down the line, called Ackley out.
It was Francoeur's 16th assist this season and the 50th for Royals outfielders, most in the Majors.
Teaford's bullpen buddies got him through to victory. Blake Wood threw two perfect innings. Greg Holland gave up an eighth inning run when Ichiro Suzuki drilled an RBI double, but stranded him at second. Joakim Soria worked a scoreless ninth for his 28th save.
So Teaford gave thanks to the bullpen and also to veteran starters Jeff Francis, Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen, who took time in the video room to prep him for the game.
"The help that they gave me was huge, because I felt very prepared and they showed me what it takes to be a starter," Teaford said.
And, yes, Teaford got that treasured, traditional beer shower from his teammates to celebrate his first big league win.
Of course, he did follow that with a traditional hot-water shower before boarding the Royals' charter flight back to Kansas City.
"Unless someone wants to get a little tipsy from my smell, I think everybody preferred I showered after that," he said. "But great beer shower, best I've ever had."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.