Ichiro reaches 200 hits for fourth straight season

SEATTLE (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki just keeps hitting, no matter what
country he's in.

Suzuki homered for his 200th hit of the season, but Abraham
Nunez hit his second grand slam in two weeks to lead the Kansas
City Royals over the Seattle Mariners 7-3 Thursday night.

Suzuki became the first player to reach 200 hits in each of his
first four major league seasons when he sent the first pitch from
reliever Jeremy Affeldt over the right-center fence in the ninth

"In Japan, at about the 120th game, I had 201 hits," Suzuki
said through a translator. "To go at about the same pace and do
the same thing over here, I didn't imagine doing that."

Suzuki had 210 hits in 130 games in Japan in 1994, the only time
he had 200 hits in his native country.

Suzuki's seventh homer of the season came in his 125th game and
cut the Royals' lead to 7-3. It also brought chants of "Ichiro!
Ichiro!" from the Safeco Field crowd of 30,962.

The 30-year-old Suzuki played nine seasons in Japan with the
Orix Blue Wave before coming to Seattle. He thinks he's still

"I've learned many things," he said. "I feel like my skills
have gone up and I'm very happy with the way I've progressed."

The 2001 AL MVP and four-time All-Star has a shot at breaking
the major league record of 257 hits set by George Sisler of the St.
Louis Browns in 1920.

Suzuki had 242 hits in 2001, 208 in 2002 and 212 last season.

Suzuki has visited baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.,
to take in some of the game's history, but he's not thinking about
catching Sisler.

It's not impossible for Suzuki, who had 51 hits in May and 50 in
July. The Mariners have 36 games left.

"At this point, I'm not going to think about that at all," he
said. "I think you have goals that you can see and that goal is
just too far for me to see."

He finished 1-for-5 and leads the AL with a .364 batting
average. He went 0-for-11 after getting his 199th hit with a single
on the first pitch of Tuesday night's game against Tampa Bay.

Seattle manager Bob Melvin is amazed by what Suzuki has achieved
during the Mariners' horrendous season.

"This season is killing him," Melvin said. "He has a way of
putting it away at night, but it hurts him bad when we lose and we
continue to go through stuff like this. He continues to come out
the next day and prepares himself as well as anybody I've ever been

Suzuki has earned the respect of his competition.

"The guy is unreal," Kansas City manager Tony Pena said. "Not
only is he a great hitter, but he's a real good all-around player.
He's a good outfielder who can run and throw. He's a natural."

Affeldt said he wanted Suzuki to give him an autograph.

"Hopefully, he signs a bat for me," the pitcher said.

The Mariners (46-80), trying to avoid their first 100-loss
season since 1983, dropped their fourth straight and sixth in seven

Coming off a 21-6 loss Wednesday night in Anaheim, the Royals
entered with the worst ERA in the AL at 5.18. But they got a solid
start from left-hander Brian Anderson (3-11) in the opener of a
five-game series between the two worst teams in the AL.

Anderson earned his second victory in August after going three
months without a win. He pitched six innings and gave up two runs,
six hits and five walks.

"It was a tough game," Anderson said. "There was nothing
pretty about it."

Kansas City (45-80) ended a three-game losing streak, jumping on
Jamie Moyer (6-9) for a 4-0 lead in the first.

Singles by Angel Berroa and Joe Randa and a walk to Matt Stairs
loaded the bases before Nunez connected on a 1-1 pitch from Moyer.
Nunez hit his first career slam Aug. 13 against Oakland.

The Royals acquired Nunez from Florida for right-hander Rudy
Seanez on July 31.

"I feel very good because I've always dreamed about getting a
grand slam in the big leagues and now I have two of them," Nunez

It was the 35th homer allowed this season, most in the AL, by
Moyer, an All-Star and a 21-game winner last season at age 40. That
tied the club record for homers given up, set by right-hander Scott
Bankhead in 1987, when the Mariners played their home games in the

Moyer lost his seventh straight decision in 12 starts and 13
appearances since his last win on June 18. He pitched 5 1-3
innings, allowing six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and a
season-high five walks.

Seattle scored its first run on Bret Boone's RBI fielder's

In the sixth, the Royals got two runs for a 6-1 lead, chasing
Moyer. Aaron Guiel singled in a run, and three-time Gold Glove
right fielder Suzuki's throwing error on the play allowed a second
run to score. It was Suzuki's third error of the season.

Then he threw out Guiel at the plate on a fly ball to end the

Rookie Jose Lopez had a run-scoring single in the Seattle sixth.
Kansas City's Matt Stairs had an RBI single in the seventh.

Game notes
Suzuki is hitting .458 since the All-Star break. ... The
Royals hit their seventh grand slam of the season, tying a club
record. ... Suzuki grounded into his sixth double play of the
season in the second, twice as many as last season.