<
>

Ichiro's three hits include milestone

5/22/2004

SEATTLE (AP) -- On a big night for Ichiro Suzuki and Gil Meche,
the Seattle Mariners came away with another loss.

Nate Robertson threw seven shutout innings, Carlos Pena hit a
two-run homer and Eric Munson added a solo shot in the Detroit
Tigers' 5-0 win over the struggling Mariners on Friday night.

Robertson (3-3) held Seattle to just six singles in sending them
to their 10th loss in 12 games, then deflected credit to catcher
Ivan Rodriguez.

"I put it all in Pudge's hands, calling the pitches,"
Robertson said. "I just make sure I throw the pitches for strikes
and not be too fine. I was able to throw all four of my pitches for
strikes tonight."

Al Levine allowed a hit in the eighth inning, and Ugueth Urbina
pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the ninth to
complete Detroit's second shutout of the season.

It was the fifth time Seattle has been shut out, spoiling career
highlights for Suzuki and Meche.

Suzuki's three singles gave him 2,001 career hits in nine
seasons in Japan's Pacific League and four major league seasons. He
had 1,278 hits in Japan and 723 in the majors, but knows skeptics
will say his Japanese statistics shouldn't carry as much weight as
his major league marks.

"That's up to the people that are watching the game," Suzuki
said through a translator. "Of course, by the numbers I put up
here, hopefully they can look back at the player in Japan.
Hopefully, people can look at it that way."

Meche (1-4) struck out a career-high 11, but the two home runs
he allowed were enough for Detroit. In allowing five hits in six
innings with two walks, however, Meche felt he'd reached a turning
point.

"I had the best velocity I've had all year," he said. "It's
just a matter of keeping my body closed and letting my body work.
Unfortunately, we lost and I gave up a couple of home runs, but I
think it's a big step for me."

The Mariners, who stranded 13 runners, loaded the bases in the
eighth off Levine but couldn't score.

Pena drove a 2-2 pitch into the right-field stands in the fourth
for his sixth homer of the season after Bobby Higginson drew a
one-out walk, giving Detroit a safe 4-0 lead.

Omar Infante's sacrifice fly in the ninth scored Craig Monroe
and made it 5-0.

The Tigers scored twice in the third, starting with Munson's
one-out homer to right on a 2-2 pitch. Infante added a ground-rule
double to right-center, and former Mariner Carlos Guillen hit an
RBI single to right.

Meche set a career high with his ninth strikeout in the fifth.
He seemed determined to keep his job amid speculation in the news
media that manager Bob Melvin might move reliever Ron Villone into
the rotation.

"Is it getting important as far as me pitching well? Yeah, it
is," Meche said. "I think it's important for us to start winning,
just as it's important for me to start doing my job."

Melvin denied saying that Meche wouldn't make his next turn, and
indicated that no changes are planned.

"I've never said that he wasn't going to take his next turn,"
Melvin said.

Game notes
Guillen, traded last winter after five seasons in Seattle,
was cheered during his first at-bat. He was 1-for-4 with a single
and walk. ... Seattle SS Rich Aurilia robbed a hit from Detroit CF
Alex Sanchez in the third, stabbing a sharply hit grounder and
popping up to make the throw. 3B Willie Bloomquist took another
potential hit from Sanchez in the seventh, catching a sharply hit
shot down the line. ... Rodriguez had a rare unassisted putout by a
catcher when he fielded a dribbler hit by Martinez in the sixth
inning and tagged him out.