Tampa Bay at Seattle

Scoreboard
Tampa Bay (6-10)000000000041
Seattle (10-6) «10000000x143

Mariners hold off Rays with Suzuki's leadoff HR, shutout pitching

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

SEATTLE -- Ichiro Suzuki hit seven of eight pitches for home runs in batting practice. The show was reminiscent of his prodigious pregame display at the All-Star Game two years ago.

So, can the singles machine really hit home runs just about any time he comes to the plate?

"No way!" Suzuki said with a chuckle through his interpreter.

Yet that was the way surprising Seattle won on Thursday. Sensing a pitcher's duel, Suzuki lined James Shields' second pitch of the game for a home run and ace Felix Hernandez saved his injury riddled team with a seven-inning gem in the Mariners' 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

"Today was a special case," said the Suzuki, an eight-time All-Star and perennial 200-hit man whose other home run this season tied the career hits record for a Japanese player. "Even before the game started, we could all tell the type of game it was likely to be. I kept thinking, 'Do your best, Felix! Do your best, Felix!' "

It was the 22nd time a leadoff home run was the deciding run in a game, and it was only the second time it happened for the Mariners. Greg Briley's shot provided the lone run June 19, 1992, against Minnesota.

The win was the second 1-0 victory of the season for the first-place Mariners, who lead the American League with a team ERA of 3.01. Seattle won only one 1-0 contest all of last season while losing 101 games.

The battered Mariners were coming off their ugliest loss of an otherwise surprising first month. They were starting a fourth-string first baseman, and they scored one run while making three errors. Yet Hernandez (3-0) did what aces are supposed to do.

He bulled through another twisting of his previously sprained right ankle to allow four hits and three walks. He struck out seven in his first scoreless outing since June 6 at Boston, 23 starts ago.

He trumped Shields (2-2), who allowed four hits and the lone run in 7 1/3 luckless innings.

The 23-year-old dubbed "King Felix" left to a fittingly royal exit: thankful teammates swarmed him for hugs and high-fives in the dugout.

"It was great. I knew it was going to be a tight game. Shields was dealing," he said.

Clubhouse crackup Ken Griffey Jr. then walked by and teased, "Yeah, some guys get all the run support."

The 39-year-old Griffey, batting .171 with two RBI in 12 games in his return to Seattle, was the only healthy position player on the bench. He used what will be his customary day game off after a night game this season to have some fun with Ichiro.

Griffey watched as Suzuki put on a skinny black leather neck tie, circa the 1980s, for the bus ride to the airport to begin a road trip. The slugger vowed to remove that "Duran, Duran" tie from Suzuki's retro chic wardrobe.

What Suzuki did not know: Griffey had at his locker a box of white ties with a blue likeness of new manager Don Wakamatsu splashed on the bottom.

"We're all putting these on as soon as we get on the bus," Griffey whispered.

David Aardsma pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts. Brandon Morrow walked Pat Burrell with one out in the ninth and sent pinch-runner Gabe Kapler to second with a wild pitch. But Morrow got Ben Zobrist to pop out and Dioner Navarro to fly out for his fifth save in five chances.

Shields walked one and struck out four. It was the second time in four starts he allowed four hits or fewer, yet the Rays lost for the seventh time in nine games.

"The first hitter of the game? The second pitch? I'll take that all day. If that's all I give up in a game, I'm doing my job," Shields said.

With runners on first and third and one out in the second, Hernandez got Navarro to chase a full-count pitch low and away for a strikeout and Akinori Iwamura to fly out. With Carl Crawford on second base in the third because of Seattle's ninth error in five games -- by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt -- Hernandez struck out 2008 AL rookie of the year Evan Longoria.

And after walking two with one out in the fourth, Hernandez got Navarro to fly out and Iwamura to ground out.

"His slider ... ," Mariners catcher Rob Johnson said, shaking his head, "I mean, it was nasty."

Notes

  • Hernandez is 3-0 for the first time in his five-year career.
  • Suzuki has 28 career leadoff home runs in the major leagues. This was his first to win a professional game, dating to his rookie season with Orix in Japan as a teen in 1992.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Given only one run of support, Felix Hernandez gives the Mariners an ace-worthy performance.  (AP)
Given only one run of support, Felix Hernandez gives the Mariners an ace-worthy performance. (AP)

Players of the Game
Seattle

F. Hernandez
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 3
K 7
Tampa Bay

J. Shields
IP 7.1
H 4
ER 1
BB 1
K 4
 

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Tampa Bay Rays
B.J. Upton, CF4000020 .212
Carl Crawford, LF4020010 .284
Evan Longoria, 3B4000022 .386
Carlos Pena, 1B4000010 .242
Pat Burrell, DH1010300 .265
    Gabe Kapler, PR-DH0000000 .200
Ben Zobrist, RF3000102 .286
Dioner Navarro, C4010014 .189
Akinori Iwamura, 2B3000015 .278
Jason Bartlett, SS3000011 .352
Totals3004049  
Fielding
DP - Bartlett-Pena
E - Evan Longoria (2, Misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Rays
James Shields (L,2-2) 7.1411141 3.67
Brian Shouse 0.2000010 1.59
Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 102-69, Brian Shouse 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 9-9, Brian Shouse 1-0
Batters Faced - James Shields 27, Brian Shouse 2
Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF4121001 .303
Endy Chavez, LF4010012 .344
Jose Lopez, 2B3000001 .196
Adrian Beltre, 3B3000020 .164
Wladimir Balentien, DH3010000 .313
Rob Johnson, C2000110 .250
Franklin Gutierrez, CF3000012 .191
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS3000001 .288
Jamie Burke, 1B3000000 .000
Totals2814115  
Batting
HR - Ichiro Suzuki (2, Shields)
RBI - Ichiro Suzuki (6)
SB - Ichiro Suzuki (2, 2nd base off Shouse/Navarro), Wladimir Balentien (1, 2nd base off Shields/Navarro)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - J. Lopez-Betancourt-Burke, Beltre-J. Lopez-Burke
E - Yuniesky Betancourt (4, Throwing), Jamie Burke (1, Misplayed grounder), Rob Johnson (1, Missed catch of throw)
Seattle Mariners
Felix Hernandez (W,3-0) 7400370 3.12
David Aardsma (H,4) 1000020 0.00
Brandon Morrow (S,5) 1000100 4.05
WP - Brandon Morrow (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Felix Hernandez 104-60, David Aardsma 9-8, Brandon Morrow 21-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Felix Hernandez 8-5, Brandon Morrow 1-2
Batters Faced - Felix Hernandez 27, David Aardsma 3, Brandon Morrow 4
Game Information
Attendance - 17639
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 52
Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Charlie Reliford, Third Base - Larry Vanover