Ichiro Suzuki showed Saturday night that the pressure of chasing another milestone may not be bothering him much after all.
Suzuki had two hits to move within two of a record ninth-straight 200-hit season, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 8-3 in a game called by rain with three outs remaining.
The Japanese star, who set the single-season hit mark with 262 in 2004, was mired in a 1-for-17 slump since getting his 2,000th career hit last Sunday.
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Suzuki broke out of the funk by doubling in the first and homering in the third before going hitless in his last three at-bats. He shares the record with Willie Keeler, who had eight consecutive 200-hit seasons from 1984-1901.
“Ichiro was unbelievable,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We talked about him feeling anxiety, but he didn’t look like it tonight.”
Ken Griffey Jr., Franklin Gutierrez and Jack Hannahan each had two RBIs, and Brandon Morrow (1-4) pitched five innings to win for the first time since Sept. 26, 2008.
Julio Borbon homered and drove in three runs for the Rangers, who slipped three games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League wild-card race.
“We are still a confident team,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “You have to take the good with the bad.”
There was a 17-minute rain delay before the game started. Rain picked up again in the seventh, but play continued.
On the final play of the game, Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson couldn’t field a grounder in the muddy infield and Marlon Byrd nearly skidded past second on a slide.
The game was finally called after a delay of 1 hour, 6 minutes, officially snapping Seattle’s five-game losing streak.
“I thought we did a heck of a job of playing it to make sure we got it in,” Wakamatsu said. “It got to the point where somebody was going to get hurt. It was pretty bad. The field had taken so much water.”
The rains that hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area this weekend haven’t kept away the dozens of Japanese media members who are tracking Ichiro’s pursuit of another record.
His translator told reporters before the game that Suzuki won’t speak to the media until he gets his 200th hit.
The nine-time All-Star doubled to right on the first pitch of the game and scored on Griffey’s single.
Leading off the third, Suzuki drove a 2-1 pitch from Kevin Millwood into the Rangers bullpen in right. It was Suzuki’s ninth home run of the season.
“Right out the chute with a double down the line,” Wakamatsu said. “It sets the tempo when he can do that right away. He does what he normally does. He sets a tone.”
Morrow, who gave up five hits and three runs, made his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday.
Three of Morrow’s four losses this season have come to the Rangers. He lost July 10 to Texas in his last start before being sent to the minors.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be, but it was a crazy week,” Morrow said. “I was a little anxious to get out there.”
Griffey added an RBI double in the third to extend Seattle’s advantage to 3-0.
After Borbon hit a two-run homer, Gutierrez answered with a two-run double in the fourth that put Seattle ahead 5-2.
Millwood (10-10) was removed after walking the next batter.
The Texas right-hander allowed eight hits and five runs in 3 2-3 innings. Since July 1, Millwood is 2-5 with a 6.29 ERA in 12 starts.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Millwood said. “I’m trying to do some things to get it straightened out. It’s not working.”
Rangers first baseman Chris Davis had his home run leading off the fifth overturned after an umpire review.
Gutierrez and Wakamatsu protested the call, prompting the review. Umpires ruled that Davis’ shot hit the top of the wall in the center field.
Davis, who was awarded a double, eventually scored on Borbon’s ground out.
Hannahan had a two-run double and Adrian Beltre chipped with an RBI single to cap the scoring.
NOTES: Millwood needs 4 1-3 more innings to hit 180 for the season and guarantee a $12 million contract next year. … Wakamatsu, who lives outside of Fort Worth, had an opportunity to watch his son play in a high school football game Saturday. “I hadn’t seen him play any sport since February, so it was nice.” Wakamatsu said of his son, Jake. “He did a nice job.”