- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2004

SEATTLE — Ichiro Suzuki is closing in on a career milestone he’s trying not to think about.

Suzuki had three hits, giving him 1,998 in his pro career, and three RBI to help Jamie Moyer and the Mariners beat the Baltimore Orioles 11-0 on Thursday night. Suzuki, 30, has 720 hits in four seasons in Seattle after getting 1,278 in nine years with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s Pacific League.

“Right now, I don’t feel anything. Maybe after it’s gone I’ll feel something,” said Suzuki, who went 3-for-5, including a home run.

Moyer pitched seven shutout innings and combined with Ron Villone for an eight-hitter in Seattle’s first shutout of the season. It was also the Mariners’ largest margin of victory this year. The last-place Mariners were 14-26 and 111/2 games behind Anaheim in the American League West.

Suzuki is leading the Mariners with a .324 batting average. Speaking through a translator, Suzuki said he wasn’t overly concerned about his team’s slow start.

“We have a lot of games left,” said the three-time All-Star, who has raised his average 66 points by hitting in 17 of the last 18 games since April29. “If there were two games left in the season, it might be a little different.”

Bret Boone’s two-run single highlighted Seattle’s six-run fifth as the Mariners avoided being swept by the Orioles and ended a three-game losing streak.

Moyer (2-2) gave up seven hits, all singles, struck out two and walked one. In his previous eight starts, Moyer gave up 13 homers, including four at Yankee Stadium last Saturday. He’s tied with Texas’ Chan Ho Park for homers allowed in the AL.

Moyer said the key to his performance this time was keeping his pitches down in the strike zone.

“They’ve got a lot of high-ball hitters,” he said. “I felt like I had good command. In some of my games recently, I’ve been trying to force the ball more than I wanted to.”

Baltimore had its three-game winning streak snapped and was shut out for the second time this season.

Held hitless through the first four innings by Rodrigo Lopez (3-2), the Mariners broke through in the fifth with six runs on seven singles, including two by Edgar Martinez. They sent 11 men to the plate while equaling their biggest inning of the season. Their seven singles tied the club record for the most singles in an inning.

Manager Bob Melvin said the Mariners collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief on the bench after their six-run inning. The team scored only a total of five runs in their previous three games.

“It was very nice that everybody could relax a little bit after we scored a bunch of runs,” Melvin said. “You can feel it. Anybody who says that they don’t feel what’s going on with us right now isn’t being truthful.”

Lopez, making his first start of the season after 12 relief appearances, loaded the bases on singles by Martinez, John Olerud and Dan Wilson before walking Rich Aurilia on a 3-2 pitch for Seattle’s first run.

Suzuki singled off first baseman Rafael Palmeiro’s glove to make it 2-0 before Boone’s two-run single. Raul Ibanez and Martinez added RBI singles to give Seattle a 6-0 lead.

Suzuki’s second homer of the season — a solo shot — came off John Parrish for his 21st multihit game this year, second most in the AL.

The Mariners added four more runs in the eighth. Suzuki hit an RBI single, Scott Spiezio had a two-run double, and Boone scored on third baseman Melvin Mora’s 12th error.

Mora was 2-for-4 to raise his league-leading batting average to .386. It was his 19th multihit game this season.

Lopez allowed six runs on five hits and two walks, with one strikeout and a hit batter. His other loss came in relief against the Mariners on April27.

Notes — The Mariners also scored six runs in an inning against the New York Yankees on May9 and Sunday. … Mariners starters have seven victories this season, the same number as their bullpen. … In 11 appearances against teams other than the Mariners, Lopez has 232/3 scoreless innings. … Palmeiro, the all-time home run leader against the Mariners with 49, was 1-for-12 in the series with a single Wednesday night.

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