SEATTLE (AP)—Never in Mariners history had one run taken so long—or felt so good.
And never before had their pre-eminent prankster had the tables turned on him.
Pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr.(notes)—who had spent some of the first 13 innings with his cap characteristically on backward as he cheered from the bench—lined a single off the right-field wall with two outs in the bottom of the 14th to give Seattle a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on a taut Wednesday night.
The 39-year-old slugger triumphantly raised his right arm as he rounded first base. He then ran into right field as his teammates comically chased him in celebration. When Rob Johnson(notes) and Jose Lopez(notes) caught up with him, they pounded on the team crackup who usually wrestles them inside the clubhouse.
“Junior’s like a big brother around here. He jumps on Ichiro(notes). He goes in Rob Johnson’s locker and beats on him,” fellow team leader Mike Sweeney(notes) said. “Yeah, the guys were excited to put a beat-down on Junior. It was well-deserved.”
They can expect revenge soon.
“Yeah, I’m going to look at the tape. They’ll be (beatings) going on in here (Thursday),” Griffey joked.
Griffey, who returned to Seattle in February with a one-year, incentive-filled contract, rekindled some of his 1990s Mariners magic to end the longest scoreless game in the team’s 33-year history.
The White Sox, for whom Griffey played last season, hadn’t been scoreless for so long in one game since Sept. 22, 1975, when they lost 3-0 in 16 innings at California.
“A couple of guys got hungry. I wanted to get them home at a reasonable hour,” Griffey joked. “No, these guys battled all day—from 7 o’clock until, what 10:50? That’s the least I could do.”
After the second seventh-inning stretch of the night, Adrian Beltre(notes), eight days removed from the disabled list following shoulder surgery, singled with one out in the 14th. Tony Pena(notes) (1-1) struck out Russell Branyan(notes) but walked Jack Hannahan(notes), playing because shortstop Jack Wilson(notes) pulled his hamstring in the fifth inning.
Up came Griffey, thrilling the many who remained from an original crowd of 24,427.
Yet again, Junior delivered. He lined a 1-2 pitch into the corner, costing Chicago a chance to pull within one game of Detroit for the lead in the AL Central.
“Ozzie’s so mad at me right now,” Griffey said about Chicago skipper Ozzie Guillen.
Seattle, the lowest-scoring team in the American League, stayed 5 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild card. The Mariners host AL East-leading New York for four games beginning Thursday.
Seattle’s 23-year-old ace struck out a season high-tying 10 in the fourth scoreless start of his All-Star season. He continually escaped trouble in his seven innings with defense he called “unbelievable.”
Rios, in his first game with Chicago after 809 at the start of his career with Toronto, singled hard off the mound on a hit-and-run to send Podsednik to third with one out in the 10th against Mark Lowe(notes). Two pitches later, catcher Johnson fired to Beltre to pick off Podsednik.
“‘What are you thinking?’ That’s all you can say,” Guillen said. “You don’t expect that to happen at the big league level. You expect everybody to know what they’re doing … I guess he was thinking about something else.”
Rios went 1 for 6 and struck out twice while batting third and playing right field in place of slumping Jermaine Dye(notes). Chicago claimed the two-time All-Star outfielder and his mammoth contract off waivers from the Blue Jays on Monday.