OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Aside from Ichiro Suzuki’s brief slump—and 0-for-9 certainly counts as a slump for him—Seattle’s star leadoff hitter has carried his fabulous finish from last season into this year.
And the modest right fielder really doesn’t think much of it.
Suzuki had three hits with a triple and two RBIs in his major league-leading 13th multihit game, and the Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 Friday night for their third win in four games.
“It’s just another day,” Suzuki said. “Just regular. Just normal.”
Bret Boone led off the eighth with a solo home run off Ricardo Rincon for his 999th career RBI and Aaron Sele (2-2) outdueled Dan Haren to end a two-start losing streak, calmly working out of trouble in six strong innings for one of his best starts since rejoining his former team.
“It was a struggle, a real battle in there for six innings,” Sele said. “I had to make some good pitches at times.”
Jamie Moyer puts his 4-0 record on the line Saturday for the Mariners, who are looking good during a difficult stretch in which they play 12 of 15 games on the road until May 11.
Eric Chavez and Mark Ellis each had two hits for the A’s, who again struggled to provide their starting pitcher with enough run support. Oakland, known for its slow starts in April in recent years, would like to gain some momentum after taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox earlier in the week.
It won’t happen if the A’s keep stranding runners at this rate—they left 12 on Friday night.
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove had a hard time seeing his pitchers keep putting runners aboard, making for long innings.
“It was five minutes of bliss (on offense) followed by 20 minutes of absolute terror,” he said.
In the eighth, Kotsay hit an RBI single against Ron Villone, who came in after J.J. Putz put two runners aboard with two outs. Eddie Guardado worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances, giving him 26 with the Mariners to tie Enrique Romo for 10th most in club history.
Scott Hatteberg drove in Kendall with a first-inning groundout, then the A’s had baserunners beyond first in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings and couldn’t capitalize against Sele.
“That’s going to be my M.O. this year,” Sele said of allowing baserunners. “It’s not the ideal way to pitch, but there are days the other team forces you to pitch like that.”
Haren (1-3) had a career-high nine strikeouts, allowed two earned runs and six hits and walked three. He got his first taste of how it feels to face Suzuki, who surpassed George Sisler’s 84-year-old mark to establish the single-season hits record last season with 262.
“With him, change what you do every time,” Haren said. “He got two hits on two real good pitches. … You just hope he doesn’t come up in an RBI situation.”
Trainer Larry Davis and manager Ken Macha rushed out to check on Haren when Wilson Valdez’s third-inning grounder clipped off the pitcher’s left foot. Hatteberg misplayed the ball at first base for an error, then Suzuki followed with a triple that got past diving right fielder Nick Swisher and rolled to the wall to score Valdez.
Moments later, Jeremy Reed hit a bouncing grounder against a drawn-in infield that went under the glove of diving shortstop Marco Scutaro for a single, scoring Suzuki for a 2-1 lead. Macha said Suzuki would have probably scored even if the A’s had played back and Scutaro had cleanly fielded Reed’s grounder.
“I don’t like to give away runs at any time,” Macha said. “Play back, we’d catch the ball but that was Ichiro on third.”
Suzuki added an RBI single to left in the fourth, then singled again in the ninth.
Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre was the only member of the Mariners to previously face Haren, a right-hander who joined the A’s from St. Louis in the trade that sent Mark Mulder to the NL champion Cardinals in December.
Beltre, who had a double, an RBI and a strikeout in two previous games against Haren, went 2-for-5 with a double.
Chavez, who came in batting .181 and is used to slow starts, doubled to the wall in right in the first, then hit a fifth-inning single.
Sele is 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA in 32 career starts against the A’s. … Before the game, everyone in the A’s clubhouse was closely monitoring the matchup of Atlanta’s Tim Hudson vs. Mulder and St. Louis—two former members of the A’s Big Three. Mulder’s Cardinals won 6-5. … Oakland third-base coach Ron Washington celebrated his 53rd birthday. … The A’s used RHP reliever Kiko Calero in the ninth. They were determined to get him in the game to see how his tender elbow responded. Calero hadn’t pitched in 11 games because of tendinitis in the elbow.