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Ichiro goes 2-for-4

SEATTLE (AP) -- This one meant more to Gil Meche than his
previous complete games.

The right-hander pitched a five-hitter for his second career
shutout and Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer to lead the Seattle
Mariners over the Boston Red Sox 2-0 Sunday.

"It's really been a struggle for me this year, but this is the
game I've been waiting for -- for my breaking ball to be there and
for the whole game to have my good heater," Meche said.

Shut out for the third time this season, Boston fell 3½ games
behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. The Red Sox
have a five-game lead over Anaheim in the wild-card race.

"We're in a good spot," Johnny Damon said. "We know the teams
in the West are going to start beating each other up. We're just
going to have to play good ball if we want to get to the playoffs.
And we know we're going to play good ball."

Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-4 with singles in the first
and eighth, boosting his total to 231 hits this season. With 20
games remaining, Suzuki is batting .374 and needs 27 hits to break
the 84-year-old major league record of 257 by George Sisler of the
St. Louis Browns.

Meche (5-6) walked one, struck out four and retired 12 of his
final 13 batters in his third career complete game.

"He felt strong. He wanted it," Seattle manager Bob Melvin
said. "I wanted to make sure when we talked after the eighth
inning that he wanted to go back out there. And he did. He wanted
it bad."

It was the first time Meche pitched nine innings -- his other two
complete games were shortened to five innings because of rain. His
other shutout was a five-inning one-hitter in a 7-0 victory at
Kansas City on June 13, 2000.

"That doesn't count," Meche said. "A five-inning rainout
doesn't mean anything to me. I kept waiting for this one. I finally
got this one under my belt. I feel like I can get a few more."

It also carried special significance for Meche because the Red
Sox have been streaking, going 30-10 since Aug. 1.

"To shut a team like this down, when they're in a pennant race
and they've scored the most runs in baseball, it's great," Meche
said. "They've got a tough lineup and I just made some good
pitches."

Meche was 1-5 with a 7.06 ERA before being demoted to Triple-A
Tacoma on June 2. In nine starts since being recalled July 30, he's
4-1 with a 3.45 ERA. He's also won four of his last five decisions.

The explanation for his improvement is simple: Meche has been
throwing strikes, and he's added a knuckle-curve that was nasty on
Sunday.

"We caught him on a good one," Damon said. "He did a great
job."

The teams split four games, ending Boston's streak of seven
straight series victories. The Red Sox came into Sunday as the
highest-scoring team in the majors with 825 runs.

Boston had a poor start Sunday -- a first-inning baserunning
mistake by Manny Ramirez, whose one-out double moved Damon to
third. When Jason Varitek flied to right, Ramirez got doubled up to
end the inning.

"I was just trying to get a good jump," said Ramirez, who
thought the ball was lower and would drop for a hit.

Derek Lowe (14-11) dueled with Meche but was denied in his bid
for a third straight 15-win season. He pitched seven innings,
allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

"I thought Derek threw well, very well," Boston manager Terry
Francona said. "He just got behind in the count to a guy who is a
good fastball hitter and left it out over the plate."

Ibanez put the Mariners up 2-0 in the sixth, driving a 2-0
sinker from Lowe an estimated 408 feet into the center-field
stands. Edgar Martinez was on base after a two-out single.

"He got it up a little bit," Ibanez said. "I was in a good
position to hit it, and I hit it pretty good."

After issuing a full-count walk to Damon leading off the sixth,
Meche gave up a single to Orlando Cabrera to put runners at the
corners.

But Meche kept his cool, getting Ramirez on a first-pitch liner
to a leaping Bret Boone at second base. Meche then struck out
Varitek and retired Kevin Millar on a foul popup.

"Boonie made the play today," Meche said. "If he doesn't
catch that ball, they score a run and have first and second, maybe
even first and third. The game changed a little bit. D-Lowe was
shutting us down. If he gets a little momentum, he'd have probably
done the same thing I did."

Meche shut down the Red Sox again in the seventh. After Trot
Nixon's leadoff single, he got Bill Mueller to fly to center,
struck out David McCarty and retired pinch-hitter David Ortiz on a
liner to third.

Game notes
Damon has reached base safely in 22 straight games. ...
University of Washington basketball standout Nate Robinson threw
out the ceremonial first pitch. Seconds later, C Dan Wilson brought
out Seattle's lineup card. ... Seattle LF Randy Winn made a nice
catch on a deep fly by Varitek in the fourth, nearly losing the
ball in the sun.