ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Ichiro Suzuki did exactly what he intended to do in the eighth inning—he hit the ball over the fence.
Suzuki, better known for slapping singles to all parts of the field, pulled a pitch into the right-field stands for a tiebreaking homer and the Seattle Mariners went on to a 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.
“If I don’t try to hit a home run, I don’t think I can hit a ball that far,” Suzuki said through a translator. “I was thinking about that. It was in the zone I was looking for.”
Suzuki hit a 1-1 pitch off Chris Young (2-2) about 375 feet for his second homer of the season. Nine of his 39 career homers have come against the Rangers.
“He seems to be able to dial up whatever the team needs at will,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s a great player.”
Richie Sexson, the slugger signed by the Mariners in the offseason, was just thinking about a base hit when he led off the ninth. He instead hit his fifth homer, but was still more impressed with Suzuki’s approach.
“He’s good like that. You see him do it in BP all the time. It’s pretty effortless in batting practice, so you know he has it in him,” Sexson said. “It’s pretty impressive if he’s thinking home run and he hits one.”
Gil Meche (2-1) pitched 7 2-3 innings and allowed just four hits, three for extra bases. He struck out three and walked one.
Young held Seattle to two runs on five hits over eight innings, the longest outing in his 12 career starts.
The 6-foot-10 Texas pitcher retired 17 of 18 batters, and 11 in a row after Suzuki doubled in the third, until walking Sexson with one out in the seventh. Bret Boone then snapped an 0-for-19 stretch with a single and Raul Ibanez had a hit to load the bases.
“He seems to get better every outing,” Showalter said of Young. “He deserved a better fate, but we couldn’t do much against Meche.”
Blalock led off the Texas fourth with his fourth homer, a 415-foot shot that landed in the second deck of stands in right. Meche then retired nine of the next 10 batters through the sixth in an impressive duel with Young.
“You get two guys going out there back and forth, you stay in that rhythm,” Meche said. “I definitely was feeding off of him and I’m sure he was doing the same off me. It’s a matter of going out there and trying to get outs as quick as possible. It helps you stay fresh.”
The only batter to reach in that span was Richard Hidalgo on second baseman Boone’s error in the fifth. Boone let a weak popup drop in front of him on the dirt and the ball took an awkward bounce off his bare hand.
Sexson’s homer came off reliever Carlos Almanzar, who allowed another run on a wild pitch.
Suzuki finished 2-for-4, his AL-best 12th multihit game.
“I asked him to make me smile tonight, and he did,” manager Mike Hargrove said.
The offensive struggles continued for Hidalgo, who has dropped to seventh in the batting order. His season averaged fell to .173 after going 0-for-3 and stretched his slump to 7-for-61 over 16 games.
Hidalgo still had some nice defensive plays. He made a leaping catch against the wall on Boone’s deep fly to right-center to start the second, and in the sixth made a running catch against Suzuki.
Young was denied his third straight win. … Rangers CF Laynce Nix entered the game 4-for-9 against Meche, all four hits being homers. He doubled off the left-center wall in his first at-bat in the third inning. … Hargrove has 1,007 wins, 51st on the career list and one behind Chuck Dressen. … Guardado has saved five of the last six Mariners wins.