- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2001

SEATTLE Paul Abbott feels his career is just beginning.
Abbott allowed two hits in eight innings as the Seattle Mariners reduced their magic number to capture the American League West title to five with a 10-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Abbott (15-3) has the second best winning percentage in the American League behind Roger Clemens' 19-1 record for the New York Yankees. The 33-year-old is 33-13 in four seasons with Seattle after overcoming two major injuries ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
"I thought this would come a lot sooner," Abbott said. "I imagined it. It's better late than never. It's what you dream about."
Abbott did not allow a hit until Brady Anderson singled with one out in the sixth. Brian Roberts' homer with two outs in the eight spoiled Abbott's shutout.
"I was two outs away from a Little League no-hitter, huh?" asked Abbott, who pitched briefly for Minnesota and Cleveland in the early 1990s.
Abbott, who won his third straight start and for the 13th time in 14 decisions, has been as good as any of the Mariners' more renowned starters.
"That was a nice job of pitching," manager Lou Piniella said.
The Mariners (101-40) improved to a franchise-high 61 games over .500, while the Orioles lost their sixth straight and for the 12th time in 13 games.
Bret Boone put the Mariners ahead 6-0 with a two-run homer, his 34th, in the third. His 33rd home run while playing second base broke the AL mark of 32 by Joe Gordon for Cleveland in 1948.
"He's had a heck of a year for us," Piniella said. "He's done everything we've asked and more. Let's hope we can keep him here."
Boone signed a one-year contract as a free agent with the Mariners this winter.
Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-5 to raise his AL-leading batting average two points to .351. He tied Alex Rodriguez's franchise record of 215 hits in 1996.
"I consider Alex one of the top players in America," Suzuki said through a translator. "I'm very happy to tie his record. At the same time, I'd love to be better than I am right now."
Mike Cameron capped Seattle's four-run first with a two-run homer off Jose Mercedes (7-17). John Olerud had an RBI single and Boone had a sacrifice fly before Cameron's 23rd homer.
In Seattle's seventh, David Bell had a two-run double. Cameron singled in two runs for the Mariners in the eighth, giving him four RBIs.
Mercedes, who lost his fourth consecutive start, is tied with San Diego's Bobby Jones for the most losses in the majors this season. In three-plus innings, he gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks.
"The deeper Jose got in the counts, the more his pitches came up and he got the ball in the middle of the plate," Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. "You can't throw major league hitters there and get away with it."
Notes With three singles, Suzuki set the AL record for singles in a season (170) by a rookie. He came into the game tied with Harvey Kuenn of Detroit in 1953… . Suzuki had his 19th three-hit game of the season… . Abbott and both benches were warned by plate umpire Lance Barksdale after the pitcher threw behind the legs of Jeff Conine in the fourth. Mercedes hit Cameron in the back in the third after Boone homered. "I'll just say I expected it," Conine said.

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