Ichiro held hitless for third time this season

SEATTLE (AP) -- C.C. Sabathia is counting on this being the
season where he doesn't have a letdown after a sensational start.

Sabathia pitched seven strong innings and Ronnie Belliard hit a
three-run homer, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 6-1 victory
over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

"I felt great," he said. "Hopefully, I can keep up the way
I'm pitching the whole year. I'm excited I'm throwing a lot of
strikes. I usually start off my seasons pretty good. I'm just
hoping I can throw like this in August and September."

The Indians handed Sabathia (1-0), a two-time All-Star making
his second start of the season because he missed all of spring
training with a strained right oblique muscle, a 5-0 lead in the

Coco Crisp and Alex Cora led off the game with singles, and
Travis Hafner and Casey Blake had RBI singles. With two outs,
Belliard hit his fourth homer of the season, a 335-foot shot near
the right-field corner for three more runs off Gil Meche (1-1).

"It was huge," Sabathia said of the big lead. "It takes a lot
of pressure off you when the guys go out there and score some runs
early and you can just go out there and focus on throwing

The 6-foot-7 Sabathia, who is listed at 290 pounds, limited the
Mariners to one run on five hits and two walks, with five

After going 17-5 as a rookie at Cleveland in 2001, Sabathia has
a combined record of 37-30 the past three seasons.

"I need to keep doing what I'm doing now. Just throwing strikes
and just getting everything over for a strike and get these guys to
swing at it," Sabathia said.

Eric Wedge, in his third full season as the Indians manager,
thinks Sabathia is finally blossoming into a premier starting

"I love where he's at right now," he said. "He is being more
efficient. I think that just goes along with him pitching, his
mentality and his focus."

The Mariners scored against Sabathia in the second on singles by
Bret Boone and Raul Ibanez, and Willie Bloomquist's sacrifice fly.

Cora's RBI single off Julio Mateo in the sixth made the score

Sabathia left the game after throwing 97 pitches, and David
Riske came on to finish the six-hitter for the Indians.

Meche went five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and
four walks, with three strikeouts.

Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 and is 3-for-20 in his last
five games. He went hitless for the third time this season.

Suzuki, who came into the game 11-for-25 (.440) in his career
against Sabathia, was retired on three infield groundballs when he
faced Sabathia.

"That's weird, huh?" Sabathia said. "I never get Ichiro out.
I think that's the key to their lineup. If you can keep Ichiro off
base, you don't have to worry about him stealing second and third.
Then you don't have to worry about making bad pitches to the other

The Indians lost 6-5 in 10 innings in Anaheim Thursday night
after taking a 5-0 lead in the first two innings.

Belliard, who was a first-time All-Star last season, said he
took that defeat exceptionally hard.

"We talk about it last night on the plane and again today," he
said. "But we come back today."

The Mariners have scored one run in their past two games. They
lost 3-0 to the Oakland Athletics Thursday night. In addition to
Suzuki's hitless night, Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson, Seattle's
$114 million free agent additions during the offseason, were a
combined 0-for-7. Beltre is hitting .242 and Sexson .200.

"We put ourselves behind the 8-ball early," new Mariners
manager Mike Hargrove said. "Sabathia is obviously one of the top
arms in the league and it's tough to start out five runs down."

Meche blamed himself for the loss.

"I tried to locate my fastball down and away, but left it up,"
he said.

Game notes
Sabathia improved to 3-0 against the Mariners at Safeco
Field, while Meche went to 1-5 against the Indians. Sabathia, 24,
pitched his second career shutout at Safeco Sept. 6, a five-hitter.
He's 3-2 in his career against the Mariners. ... Hargrove, who led
the Indians from 1991-99 and took them to two World Series against
Atlanta ('95) and Florida ('97), saw his record drop to 10-18
against Cleveland. Hargrove was 10-17 against the Indians when he
was with Baltimore from 2000-03. ... Mariners pitchers gave up a
season-high six walks.