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Mariners narrow AL West lead to 3 games

9/20/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Ben Davis saw the plate and nothing else.
He charged home, knocked down the catcher and umpire and scored for
Seattle.

The Mariners are set on making the AL West interesting until the
very end -- even if they have to run over people to do it.

Ichiro Suzuki had four hits and drove in a career-high five
runs, and Bret Boone added three hits and two RBI as Seattle beat
the first-place Oakland Athletics for the second straight day, 9-3
Saturday.

"This is a great opportunity for us to jump up, stand up and be
heard," Seattle's Mike Cameron said.

Oakland's division lead dropped to three games over Seattle, and
the A's magic number to win the West remained at five. Any
combination of A's wins and Mariners losses totaling five would
give Oakland its second straight division title.

Seattle cut Boston's wild-card lead to 1{ games after the Red
Sox lost 13-4 at Cleveland.

"We're desperate," Davis said. "It's a good time to be
greedy. No one wants to go home at the end of the season."

The Mariners scored both of their sixth-inning runs with hard
home-plate collisions that made it tough for the A's to make a
play. Mike Wood threw a wild pitch that allowed Cameron to come
home from third, and Seattle's center fielder ran into the pitcher
at the plate after Wood failed to control an errant throw from
catcher Ramon Hernandez.

Davis then leveled Hernandez and knocked the ball from his hands
to score minutes later. Umpire Joe West even fell over on that one.

Hernandez left the game two innings later with a bruised right
elbow, but manager Ken Macha believed he would play Sunday in the
series finale.

Cameron and pitcher Joel Pineiro fought to be the first ones to
reach Davis and offer their congratulations for making such a
clutch play. It gave the Mariners momentum -- "That's big Ben,"
Suzuki said. "That type of play proved we are into the game and it
gives us more enthusiasm."

"Ben Davis, hats off to him," Cameron said. "That's like my
ultimate dream, to erupt the crowd. That was nice."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Davis said he was trying to lower his
body to avoid getting injured, and he didn't see West in his way.

"I just tried to get a little lower ... and go for the brunt,"
Davis said. "It's not my intent to hurt anybody. I was just zoning
everything out to try to score runs. That symbolizes what we were
doing early in the year -- playing good, hard, aggressive
baseball."

Pineiro (15-11) calmly worked out of jams to win for just the
second time in nine starts. After giving up a leadoff walk to Eric
Byrnes in the fifth, Pineiro retired the next nine Oakland batters.

Suzuki's two-run single in the fourth gave him 200 hits for the
third straight season, and his other three hits were doubles.

"I cannot express how sincerely happy I am about what I
accomplished today," Suzuki said.

The Mariners -- who had been struggling on offense lately -- were
impressive with their bats again. Seattle entered the series
38-for-141 (.270) in their four previous games. They had 14 hits
Friday and 17 Saturday.

Rey Sanchez had two hits and two sacrifice bunts, and Cameron
had two hits and scored three times.

The Mariners got past Tim Hudson 6-1 on Friday night, leaving
two right-handed rookies in their way during this three-game series
-- Justin Duchscherer and Rich Harden.

"My major league debut was an important game, but this is
bigger than that," Harden said of his Sunday start.

Duchscherer, recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 8,
lasted four innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He struck
out five and walked one. Duchscherer (1-1) won his Oakland debut
against Anaheim on Sept. 9. He hadn't lost since June 3 at Tacoma,
the Mariners' Triple-A team. He often worked Seattle deep into the
count, but couldn't put batters away.

"You start to wonder, are they lucky?" Duchscherer said. "Or
did they do a great job hitting on me?"

Pineiro walked Billy McMillon and Erubiel Durazo to start the
game, and both players came around to score as the A's took a 2-0
lead on RBI singles by Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez.

In the third, Pineiro gave up a leadoff double to McMillon and
walked Durazo again but got three straight outs to escape the jam.
And Pineiro settled down once he had some runs to work with. The
right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings,
striking out five and walking three.

Pineiro woke up Saturday morning with pain behind his left knee.

"I just took a couple strong painkillers," he said, smiling.

Game notes
Seattle leads the season series 9-6, going 5-4 in Oakland.
... Byrnes robbed Suzuki of another hit with a spectacular catch
against the wall in center in the eighth. ... Pineiro is 5-1 with a
2.58 ERA in six career starts against Oakland. He went over 200
innings for the season, giving Seattle three 200-plus starters for
the seventh time. Pineiro threw 125 pitches, 85 strikes. ... Mike
Edwards pinch-hit in the eighth for the A's to make his major
league debut.