Sidney Ponson’s audition for a spot in Kansas City’s rotation went well through five innings Thursday. The sixth was another matter.

Sidney Ponson’s audition for a spot in Kansas City’s rotation went well through five innings Thursday. The sixth was another matter.
In his first big-league start since signing a minor-league free agent contract March 17, Ponson allowed four singles and two unearned runs through five innings against the Seattle Mariners.
But he lasted just one-third of the sixth inning, giving up a two-run homer to Russell Branyan followed by two singles. Both runners then scored off Royals reliever Victor Marte, leaving Ponson with a line of eight hits, four earned and six unearned runs, two strikeouts and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Seattle went on to rally for a 10-9 win, with former Royal Mike Sweeney driving in the winning run in the Mariners’ three-run ninth.
“The first five was good,” Ponson said afterward. “The last inning, I tried to do a little bit too much. I wanted to finish with a bang, but it didn’t work out that way. My sinker was not sinking the way it was. It was going side-to-side.”
For now, Ponson said, “I’m just working on getting my arm strength, working on my pitches, making sure I can throw them for a strike in any count.”
Ponson is one of four candidates for the final two slots in the Royals rotation. The others are right-handers Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar and left-hander Horacio Ramirez.
Bannister threw in a minor league game Thursday, giving up four hits and no runs in five innings with one walk and five strikeouts against the Texas Rangers’ Class AAA Oklahoma City affiliate.
Ponson said his home run pitch to Branyan “was supposed to be in, but it was down the middle. It was a bad pitch. When he hit it, I knew it was out. The wind was blowing out, too, but the guy is strong. He would have hit a home run, no matter what.”
The Royals scored two runs in the top of the ninth to go ahead 9-7, but relievers Doug Waechter and Tim Hamulack couldn’t hold the lead.
Waechter, who was held out of early exhibition games because of a finger blister, blew his second save opportunity in four days and has a 31.50 ERA. He retired only one of the four batters he faced and gave up a two-run double to Ronny Cedeno on an 0-2 count.
“Two times he’s pitched in an ’A’ game, so you’ve got to put it in perspective,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “Would I’ve liked to see him do better on both occasions? Sure, especially on 0-2 pitches. I’m not sure how the finger is affecting him until I talk to him.”
The Royals had 17 hits, including three by David DeJesus, while Mike Aviles homered and doubled and drove in four runs.