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Angels' Matsui reaches milestone with game-winning RBI in 10th

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SEATTLE -- Hideki Matsui wasn't truly excited over the chance to join Sadaharu Oh in an elite group of Japanese hitting greats. Enduring a 4-for-45 slump can do that to an aging veteran.

Yet the former clutch Yankee came through again -- for himself and his new team.

Matsui became the ninth Japanese player to reach 1,500 career RBI when he singled home Bobby Abreu in the top of the 10th inning, and Brian Fuentes got his first save in two weeks as the Los Angeles Angels beat the sinking Seattle Mariners 4-3 on Saturday.

"I'm just happy. I'm certainly not at my best right now, but to be able to come through in a very important situation in the game is definitely satisfying," Matsui said through an interpreter.

Matsui's single and 611th RBI in the major leagues came off David Aardsma (0-2) after Abreu doubled leading off the 10th.

Seattle's closer pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed four hits plus a walk. The Mariners lost their eighth consecutive game, all at home.

Los Angeles won for the second consecutive time following seven straight losses entering this series between the struggling supposed front runners in the AL West.

Matsui, 35, played 10 seasons for Yomiuri in the Japanese Central league before joining New York in 2003, then the Angels as a $6 million free agent for 2010.

He just joined a list led by Oh, the leader on Japan's career RBI list with 2,170.

"You look at some of the numbers Hideki's put up in both leagues, they are eye-popping," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They show the talent that he is."

Fuentes got his first save since April 26, and fourth save in five opportunities this season. He struck out two in the bottom of the 10th.

Fernando Rodney (3-0) walked three in the ninth, but escaped with the game still tied by getting Mike Sweeney to ground out on a full-count fastball at 98 mph -- with the crowd of over 30,446 standing and roaring in a hearty effort to distract him.

The 36-year-old Sweeney, a five-time All-Star in perhaps his final season, sat alone and slumped over his bat in the dugout for several moments after yet another Mariners loss.

"Again, it comes down to timely hitting. That's a ballgame we should win with the amount of walks they gave up," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said.

Wakamatsu chose to keep left-hander Ken Griffey Jr., who has been struggling at .216 but is baseball's active leader in RBI (1,777), on the bench against right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen with runners at second and third, two outs and the game tied in the eighth. Rob Johnson, the No. 9 hitter batting .140, appeared instead.

Jepsen struck out Johnson.

"At some point, we can pinch-hit for everybody in this lineup, but somebody's going to have to step up and get a big hit," Wakamatsu said.

Torii Hunter had one of those for the Angels, a two-run single in the fifth. And Kevin Frandsen had three hits in his Angels debut hours after a promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake.

Seattle starter Doug Fister allowed three earned runs for the first time in six starts this season, on eight hits in seven innings.

When Hunter's singled in the fifth, Los Angeles led 3-0. The game looked over -- given Seattle had scored nine runs in seven games on their ugly homestand.

But the Mariners immediately rallied on a two-run double by Ichiro Suzuki in the fifth and Sweeney's RBI double in the sixth off Angels starter Joe Saunders, who failed to end his career-high three-game losing streak.

Saunders allowed five hits and three runs -- one earned -- with five walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Notes

  • The Mariners rechecked ace Felix Hernandez and found his previously tight back wasn't the reason he allowed eight runs Friday night. Poor mechanics were. Wakamatsu said it looked as though the 2009 AL Cy Young runner-up had eight different pitching motions during the game. Pitching coach Rick Adair is working to correct that with the 24-year-old right-hander before his next start Thursday at Baltimore.
  • Frandsen, recently waived by Boston weeks after the Red Sox acquired him from San Francisco, arrived after INF Maicer Izturis (shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day DL.
 
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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With his RBI in the 10th, Hideki Matsui becomes the ninth Japanese player to reach 1,500 career RBI. (AP)
With his RBI in the 10th, Hideki Matsui becomes the ninth Japanese player to reach 1,500 career RBI. (AP)

Players of the Game
Anaheim

K. Frandsen
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
Seattle

I. Suzuki
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 

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Los Angeles Angels
Erick Aybar, SS5120013.248
Bobby Abreu, RF4110103.266
Torii Hunter, CF5012001.277
Kendry Morales, 1B4111112.294
Hideki Matsui, DH5021000.237
Juan L. Rivera, LF4010011.245
a-Reggie Willits, PR-LF1000002.158
Howard Kendrick, 2B4000002.273
Mike Napoli, C3000000.219
b-Michael Ryan, PH-RF1010000.500
Kevin Frandsen, 2B4130002.750
Totals4041242316
a-Fouled out for J Rivera in the 9th.
b-Singled for M Napoli in the 9th.
BATTING
2B - E Aybar (7); B Abreu (11)
HR - K Morales (7)
RBI - T Hunter 2 (16); K Morales (22); H Matsui (14)
S - H Kendrick (1)
FIELDING
E - K Frandsen (1)
Los Angeles Angels
Joe Saunders 5.25315206.19
Jason Bulger 1.11000205.11
Kevin Jepsen 1.01001204.26
Fernando Rodney (W,3-0) 1.00003002.45
Brian Fuentes (S,4) 1.00000204.05
Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF4022101.315
Chone Figgins, 2B3000103.192
Casey Kotchman, 1B4000011.194
Franklin Gutierrez, CF3110222.322
Jose Lopez, 3B4010102.215
Mike Sweeney, DH5011014.176
Ryan Langerhans, LF2100300.125
Josh Wilson, SS4010124.091
Rob Johnson, C5110024.140
Totals343739821
BATTING
2B - J Lopez (5); M Sweeney (1)
3B - I Suzuki (2)
RBI - I Suzuki 2 (5); M Sweeney (3)
S - C Figgins (2)
BASERUNNING
SB - F Gutierrez (3); J Wilson (1)
CS - C Figgins (3)
Seattle Mariners
Doug W. Fister 7.08331211.71
Brandon League 1.00000102.12
David Aardsma (L,0-2) 1.14111003.75
Shawn Kelley 0.20000002.00