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Clemens Loses in Matsui-Suzuki Matchup

April 30, 2003

With all eyes on Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki and Roger Clemens, an unheralded pitcher stole the show at Yankee Stadium.

Gil Meche took a three-hitter into the eighth and extended his scoreless streak to 16 1-3 innings as the Seattle Mariners beat the New York Yankees 6-0 on Tuesday night.

Suzuki and Matsui, Japan’s biggest baseball stars, were both held in check in their first matchup in the major leagues. Clemens (4-1) failed to get his 298th win.

``This is probably the biggest night of my baseball career, here, beating a Hall of Famer,″ Meche said.

Of course, the game was broadcast live in Japan, starting at 8:05 a.m. local time Wednesday. But Godzilla vs. Ichiro, Japan’s premier slugger vs. its best contact hitter, turned out to be a bust.

Suzuki, who in 2001 became the first Japanese non-pitcher to earn a regular job in the majors, was 1-for-5 with a bunt single and scored in the seventh inning.

Matsui, who joined the Yankees this season, was 1-for-4 with a ninth-inning single off Japanese reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa.

Japanese fans were evident in the crowd of 38,724, and T-shirts with pictures of the two stars were on sale in the stands for $22.50.

``Usually before an away game, visiting players don’t get cheered,″ Suzuki said through a translator. ``This time, I felt a little strange, awkward, because I felt cheering from the fans.″

In other AL games, it was: Oakland 3, Chicago White Sox 2; Texas 16, Toronto 11; Boston 7, Kansas City 2; Anaheim 10, Cleveland 1; Baltimore 11, Detroit 3; and Minnesota 5, Tampa Bay 3.

Bret Boone, Ben Davis and Edgar Martinez homered for Seattle, which has won 12 of its last 13 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.

Because they played in different leagues, Matsui and Suzuki didn’t come across each other much in Japan. They spoke briefly _ ``Just greet each other,″ according to Matsui, who said the pregame hype wasn’t a factor.

Hasegawa didn’t want to talk about it, at all. After the game there were signs in his locker saying: ``Leave me alone″ and ``I will not talk about Matsui.″

In the first meeting of the season between the division leaders, New York (20-6) lost consecutive games for the first time this year and was shut out for the first time since an 8-0 loss against Oakland last Aug. 10.

Suzuki predicted all Yankees-Mariners games will probably cause a stir.

``As far as the Japanese media is concerned, it isn’t going to die down,″ he said.

Meche (3-1) allowed six hits in 7 2-3 innings, striking out four and walking two. Arthur Rhodes and Hasegawa finished with one-hit relief.

New York had homered in 14 straight games.

``If I can pitch better than this, I can’t wait for that day,″ Meche said.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, sidelined since spring training with a right groin injury, was activated but did not pitch.

Athletics 3, White Sox 2

At Chicago, Chris Singleton had a pair of RBIs against his old team, and Barry Zito (4-2) outpitched Bartolo Colon (2-2) to lead Oakland to its fifth straight win.

Keith Foulke, facing his former team for the first time since Chicago and Oakland swapped closers in December, pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

Rangers 16, Blue Jays 11

At Toronto, Juan Gonzalez and Carl Everett each homered twice for Texas.

A crowd of 48,097, the largest since opening day, turned out at SkyDome after the Blue Jays offered $1 tickets in an effort to show Toronto remains vibrant despite SARS.

Alex Rodriguez and Todd Greene also homered for the Rangers, who have won a franchise-record nine straight against the Blue Jays.

Rodriguez is 9-for-11 with nine RBIs in his last two games. He reached base with a hit for the seventh straight time with his ninth homer of the season in the third inning.

Red Sox 7, Royals 2

At Boston, Nomar Garciaparra had three hits and Tim Wakefield (3-1) pitched six strong innings for the Red Sox.

The Royals, who at 17-6 are off to the best start in franchise history, have lost two straight to match their longest skid of the season.

Mike DiFelice homered and Carlos Beltran hit an inside-the-park shot for Kansas City.

Angels 10, Indians 1

At Cleveland, Ramon Ortiz (4-2) pitched a seven-hitter and Garret Anderson drove in three runs as Anaheim handed the Indians their seventh straight loss.

Anderson hit a two-run homer off Ricardo Rodriguez (2-2) and Jeff DaVanon added three RBIs.

Cleveland (7-19) is off to its worst start since 1969 and has its first seven-game losing streak since June 27-July 3, 1991.

Orioles 11, Tigers 3

At Detroit, Jason Johnson (4-0) pitched five scoreless innings and Jerry Hairston had three runs and two RBIs to lead Baltimore.

Detroit dropped to 3-21, while Baltimore moved back over .500 at 13-12.

Twins 5, Devil Rays 3

At Minneapolis, Corey Koskie homered and drove in three runs, and Kenny Rogers (3-1) pitched seven strong innings.

Torii Hunter also homered for the Twins, who had scored just 20 runs in their last eight games, seven of them losses.

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