- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 9, 2003

SEATTLE — For the first time in the team’s history, the Seattle Mariners have three starters with 10 or more wins before the All-Star break.

Joel Pineiro joined All-Star Jamie Moyer and Gil Meche in the 10-win club as the Mariners beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Tuesday night.

Pineiro won his fifth straight start, helped by Ichiro Suzuki’s leadoff homer, to drop the Orioles to 1-15 at Safeco Field. Pineiro stayed in after being hit on his pitching hand by a liner off the bat of Deivi Cruz in the fourth inning.

The right-hander was taken out of the game with a 6-1 lead after six innings. He allowed one run on five hits and no walks. Pineiro slightly bruised his hand, but is expected to make his next scheduled start Sunday against Tampa Bay.

“It wasn’t hit that hard,” he said. “It was kind of spinning more than just a straight line drive.”

Pineiro, a 14-game winner last season, has a 1.98 ERA in his current 5-0 stretch. He credits the Mariners’ major league-leading defense, which has only 32 errors in 88 games, for his 10-5 record this season.

“That gives me more confidence to go out there knowing that you don’t have to make that perfect pitch,” he said.

Pineiro was effectively wild. He didn’t strike out a batter for the second time in 58 career starts.

“He was all over the place, but he wasn’t throwing the ball right down the middle,” the Orioles’ Jay Gibbons said. “He’s just a good pitcher. He makes it real tough.”

Suzuki hit the second pitch from Jason Johnson (7-4) for his ninth leadoff homer, third this season. With eight homers, he’s matched his totals for each of his first two years in the AL.

Mike Cameron and Mark McLemore singled starting the second, Jeff Cirillo sacrificed, and No. 9 hitter Dan Wilson doubled into the right-field corner.

Bret Boone had a two-run triple in the sixth, and Edgar Martinez singled in Boone off Rick Bauer.

Melvin Mora had an RBI groundout in the third, and the Orioles closed with four runs in the eighth.

Gibbons had an RBI single off Arthur Rhodes, Cruz added a two-run single against Jeff Nelson and pinch-hitter David Segui singled in a run off Shigetoshi Hasegawa.

Hasegawa, Seattle’s closer until Kazuhiro Sasaki returns from the disabled list, got four outs for his fourth save in as many opportunities.

Suzuki and Hasegawa both had key performances on Salute to Japanese Baseball Night at Safeco.

Suzuki’s homer made for great television in Japan, Hasegawa said.

“That was a great moment for all the Japanese people watching on TV,” he said.

Johnson allowed five runs, 10 hits and four walks in 5⅔ innings, but he was in manager Mike Hargrove’s doghouse for another reason.

Hargrove was upset with Johnson for not getting to first base fast enough on Randy Winn’s infield single with two outs in the sixth. The Mariners scored three runs after that.

“He didn’t cover the bag,” Hargrove said.

In a game that featured the AL’s top two hitters, Mora (.355) went 0-for-4 and Suzuki (.350) was 2-for-5. Suzuki also stole his 24th base, one behind AL leader Alfonso Soriano of the New York Yankees.

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