- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2001

SEATTLE (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki beat the Baltimore Orioles with his glove.

The rookie right fielder made three outstanding catches, including the game-ending one of a sinking blooper that could have scored the tying run, as the Mariners won 3-2 last night for their sixth consecutive victory.

"It looked like he was probably the difference in the game," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "He made plays that you don't see many people make."

With the speedy Delino DeShields approaching third base, Suzuki made a sliding catch of Jerry Hairston's ball into shallow right to end the game.

"Each flyball had its own characteristic, but I was most proud of the last one because it ended the ballgame," said Suzuki, who won his seventh consecutive Gold Glove in Japan last season.

Freddy Garcia pitched seven strong innings and Mark McLemore homered as the Mariners (38-12) moved a franchise-high 26 games over .500. They're off to the best start in the majors after 50 games since the 1984 Detroit Tigers began the season 39-11.

Suzuki went 2-for-4, with an RBI and a double. Suzuki leads the majors with 83 hits and is hitting .358, third best in the American League.

Suzuki's final catch capped the night. The Mariners thought DeShields would have been out at the plate if he would have tried to score, though. Suzuki has a strong throwing arm, but it would have been hard for him to get up and throw out DeShields at the plate in time.

"I did not think he would have scored because I would have stopped the ball in front of me," Suzuki said.

Seattle manager Lou Piniella agreed with Suzuki.

"It was just a great play," Piniella said. "But I don't think he would have scored because I think Ichiro would have kept the ball in front of him." Garcia (5-0) allowed two runs — one earned — and four hits in seven innings.

Kazuhiro Sasaki pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 23 opportunities. He became the second reliever to get 20 saves in 50 games or less. Lee Smith had 20 saves in 46 games with the Orioles in 1994.

McLemore gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the third with his fourth homer of the season off Willis Roberts (5-4).

The Orioles, who are 0-8 at Safeco Field, tied the score with a run in the fifth on singles by Melvin Mora and DeShields, and Brook Fordyce's run-scoring groundout.

The Mariners scored twice in the bottom of the inning on four singles. After hits by Carlos Guillen and David Bell, Suzuki and Edgar Martinez hit run-scoring singles.

The Orioles scored an unearned run in the sixth after Brady Anderson opened the inning with a single to center and Mike Cameron committed a fielding error to allow Anderson to go to second.

Suzuki made a nice, running catch of Mike Bordick's ball in foul territory and Anderson moved to third. Anderson scored on Chris Richard's groundout.

Suzuki made first outstanding catch for the third out of the third inning. He ran over and caught Anderson's long drive with a sliding catch near the foul line.

"I just had to go into the corner," he said. "I was running, but I was looking at the wall, too."

McLemore said Suzuki's teammates marvel how he plays the game.

"He's unbelievable," McLemore said. "The Wizard can just play. When he's not doing it with his bat, which isn't very often, he's doing it with his glove."

Roberts pitched an eight-hitter for his first career complete game.

"He pitched absolutely well enough to win," Hargrove said. "We just couldn't get him the runs."

Game notes — Piniella said before the game that he will be on Yankees manager Joe Torre's AL All-Star coaching staff for the second consecutive season. The game will be held July 10 at Safeco Field. … Lt. Shane Osborn, commander of the Navy spy plane crew held for 11 days in China, threw out the first pitch. Osborn was joined by nine other members of the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station-based crew for a special ceremony before the game. … Suzuki had his major league-leading 26th multi-hit game. … The Orioles' Jeff Conine matched his career high 13-game hitting streak. He hit in 13 consecutive games with Florida in 1994. … The Mariners beat the Orioles for the eighth time in a row.

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