Mariners Keep Division Race Interesting
Sep. 21, 2003
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ The Seattle Mariners are set on making the AL West interesting until the very end _ even if they have to run over people to do it.
Ichiro Suzuki had four hits and drove in five runs, and Bret Boone added three hits and two RBIs as Seattle beat the first-place Oakland Athletics for the second straight day, 9-3 Saturday.
Oakland's division lead dropped to three games over Seattle, and the A's magic number to win the West remained at five. Any combination of A's wins and Mariners losses would give Oakland its second straight division title.
Boston's lead over Seattle in the wild-card race slipped to 1 1/2 games; the Red Sox were routed at Cleveland 13-4.
The Mariners scored both of their sixth-inning runs with hard home-plate collisions that made it tough for the A's to make a play. Mike Wood threw a wild pitch that allowed Mike Cameron to come home from third, and Seattle's center fielder ran into the pitcher at the plate after Wood failed to control an errant throw from catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Ben Davis then leveled Hernandez and knocked the ball from his hands to score minutes later. Umpire Joe West even fell over on that one.
Hernandez left the game two innings later with a bruised right elbow.
Joel Pineiro (15-11) calmly worked out of jams to win for just the second time in nine starts. After giving up a leadoff walk to Eric Byrnes in the fifth, Pineiro retired the next nine Oakland batters.
Suzuki's two-run single in the fourth gave him 200 hits for the third straight season, and his other three hits were doubles. The Mariners _ who had been struggling on offense lately _ were impressive with their bats again. Seattle entered the series 38-for-141 (.270) in their four previous games. They had 14 hits Friday and 17 Saturday.
Rey Sanchez had two hits and two sacrifice bunts, and Cameron had two hits and scored twice.
The Mariners got past Tim Hudson 6-1 on Friday night, leaving two right-handed rookies in their way during this three-game series _ Justin Duchscherer and Rich Harden.
Duchscherer, recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 8, lasted four innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He struck out five and walked one. Duchscherer (1-1) won his Oakland debut against Anaheim on Sept. 9.
Pineiro walked Billy McMillon and Erubiel Durazo to start the game, and both players came around to score as the A's took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez.
In the third, Pineiro gave up a leadoff double to McMillon and walked Durazo again but got three straight outs to escape the jam. And Pineiro settled down once he had some runs to work with. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking three.
Notes: Seattle leads the season series 9-6, going 5-4 in Oakland. ... Byrnes robbed Suzuki of another hit with a spectacular catch against the wall in center field in the eighth. ... Pineiro is 5-1 in six career starts against Oakland. He went over 200 innings for the season, giving Seattle three 200-plus starters for the seventh time. Pineiro threw 125 pitches, 85 strikes. ... Mike Edwards pinch-hit in the eighth for the A's to make his major league debut. ... Cokie Roberts of ABC News threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. She is a survivor of the disease. The A's raised $81,810 for breast cancer awareness and education.