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Cirillo bashes out of slump, M's win third straight

4/15/2003

SEATTLE (AP) -- Don't be fooled by his batting average. Jeff Cirillo is having a blast this season.

Cirillo hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, his first of
the season, lifting the Seattle Mariners past Mark Mulder and the
Oakland Athletics 4-3 Monday night.

Though he's hitting only .150, Cirillo beamed as he rounded
third, pumping a finger in a gesture for his son. He was still
smiling as he stepped to the dugout after lining a 355-foot shot
that landed just inside the left-field foul pole.

"I've been having fun all year,'' Cirillo said. "Granted, I
haven't been getting a lot of hits but I refuse to go down that
road I was on last year. I'm going to enjoy myself, good, bad or
indifferent.''

Last season, the two-time All-Star and career .304 hitter
slumped to .249 after joining the Mariners. Known for his intensity
and the high expectations he places on himself, he might have
worked himself into a trap.

"Nine years of playing the game, and it's almost been a sigh of
relief when I get a hit,'' Cirillo said.

The A's, meanwhile, have dropped five straight after starting
the season 7-1. They did not have a five-game losing streak all of
last season.

Oakland was swept three games by the Anaheim Angels last
weekend, when Barry Zito and Tim Hudson lost. Now, Mulder has, too.

"Out of the three, Mulder pitched good and the other two
didn't,'' A's manager Ken Macha said. "If they don't pitch good,
we've got problems.''

Joel Pineiro (1-1) threw seven strong innings, holding Oakland to six hits as the Mariners won their third in a row.

"I felt good,'' Pineiro said. "I felt aggressive from the
beginning. I knew it would be a good start.''

Arthur Rhodes, back in uniform after a two-game absence for the
birth of his son, pitched a scoreless eighth. Kazuhiro Sasaki got three outs for his second save in three tries.

Seattle's bullpen has allowed just seven runs in 45 innings,
winning twice with two saves and posting a 1.40 ERA.

"We sit out there and watch the ballgame,'' Rhodes said. "I
give credit to all our guys. Everybody out there can throw strikes
and get guys out. We all pay attention.''

Cirillo has had it rough early this season. He broke a 1-for-28
slump by going 4-for-4 in a win over Texas on Saturday, then went
0-for-5 in the series finale against the Rangers on Sunday.

"The other day was a good day,'' he said. "I got the donut off
my hat. My attitude has been great. I think if I'd have started off
like I did last year, I would have sunk myself by now.''

Cirillo was 0-for-2 when he connected on a 1-0 pitch against
Mulder (1-1), who pitched seven innings and allowed eight hits and
four runs.

"I tried to put it inside,'' Mulder said. "It just didn't
move, stayed right over the middle. That's the only mistake I made
the whole game.''

Said Cirillo: "It was good to get a hit in a big situation. I
didn't even know where I hit it. I thought it went to
left-center.''

The Athletics led 3-2 in the sixth, squeezing out a run with two
infield hits after Pineiro had settled into a rhythm by retiring 12
of the previous 14 batters.

Chris Singleton hit over Pineiro's head and second baseman Bret
Boone couldn't corral the ball. It was ruled a single, and
Singleton went to second on Miguel Tejada's fly to deep left. He
went to third on a single by Eric Chavez and scored on Jermaine
Dye's sacrifice fly to right.

Game notes
The crowd of 26,567 was the second-smallest ever at Safeco
Field, which opened in July 1999. The smallest was 25,034 against
Anaheim on April 19, 2001. ... Oakland hadn't lost five straight
since April 8-15, 2001. ... Willie Bloomquist started for the
Mariners in left field and Randy Winn moved to center as manager
Bob Melvin gave Mike Cameron a day off. ... Ramon Hernandez tied it
at 2 for Oakland with a solo homer in the third. Seattle has
allowed 19 homers, most in the AL. ... Seattle's Edgar Martinez
lost his grip after a big cut in the sixth, sending his bat flying
on top of Oakland's dugout.