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Mariners could be eliminated tonight

9/24/2003

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Another poor second half is likely to
leave the Seattle Mariners out of the playoffs for a second
straight season.

John Lackey pitched a five-hitter and rookie Tom Gregorio had a
two-run single as the Anaheim Angels beat Seattle 4-0 Wednesday,
pushing the Mariners to the brink of postseason elimination.

"We didn't play well coming down the stretch, and we didn't
play well in the second half at all," Seattle's John Olerud said.
"We've lost a lot of close games and haven't beaten a lot of teams
that we felt like we should have beaten."

Seattle's seventh loss in 11 games meant Boston clinched no
worse than a tie for the AL wild-card berth. The Red Sox wasted a
chance to clinch outright when they lost 7-3 to Baltimore on
Wednesday.

For the Mariners to make the playoffs, Boston would have lose
its final four games, and Seattle would have to sweep a three-game
series against Oakland, then beat the Red Sox in a tiebreaker
playoff.

"Boston definitely played good when they needed to, and we
didn't. That's the difference," Seattle's Bret Boone said. "But I
don't think we handed it to them by any means."

The Mariners led Oakland by eight games in the AL West on June
13. By Aug. 27 the Athletics overtook them, and Oakland clinched
the division when it defeated Texas and Anaheim beat Seattle in 11
innings Tuesday night.

Last season, the Mariners were up by five games in the division
on July 4 before losing the lead for good on Aug. 23. The Athletics
used a 20-game winning streak to win the division, and Anaheim took
the wild card.

After the Mariners' loss to the Angels dropped the Mariners to
11-11 this month, manager Bob Melvin was not available for
interviews for the first time this season. It is his first year as
a big league manager after replacing Lou Piniella.

Lackey (10-16) struck out four and walked two in his second
career shutout and second complete game this season. He had lost
his previous three starts and five of six.

Seattle's Gil Meche (15-13) pitched because Ryan Franklin had a
stiff neck Wednesday morning. Meche allowed three runs and six hits
in five innings. He had pitched on Sunday, but threw only 45
pitches and gave up five runs in the second inning of a 12-0 loss
to Oakland.

"When I came in yesterday, Frankie said, `You know, you might
have to pitch tomorrow.' And I'm like, `Oh, really? I've had one
day off," Meche said. "I wanted to see what I could do, not
being as sharp as I probably would be if I had my normal days'
rest. I think I did a decent job today, but I just ran into a
little bit of trouble in the fourth inning."

Gregorio singled with one out in the fourth after Scott Spiezio
reached on a fielder's choice, Adam Kennedy doubled and Wilson
Delgado loaded the bases with a walk. They were the first RBI of
Gregorio's major league career.

Alfredo Amezaga followed with an RBI single. The Angels added a
run in the eighth on Spiezio's sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Boone singled with one out and tried to score on
Olerud's double to left. Shortstop Amezaga took the relay throw
from Garret Anderson and threw to Gregorio. Boone barreled over the
catcher, who held on to the ball.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was pleased by Lackey's outing.

"John pitched a terrific game," he said. "He was masterful
with his control for most of the game."

Game notes
Scioscia said LHP Jarrod Washburn might be able to make his
final scheduled start, on Sunday against Texas. Washburn left his
last start after three innings of a 5-1 loss to Seattle on Monday
because a sore right ankle. He hurt it in his previous start. ...
Seattle DH Edgar Martinez needs two RBI to reach 100 for the
seventh time in his career.