Major League Baseball
Ichiro's big catch helps M's hold off Indians
Major League Baseball

Ichiro's big catch helps M's hold off Indians

Published Jul. 19, 2009 11:00 p.m. ET

Ichiro Suzuki can hit, run, throw - and play a pretty good game of fetch, too.

Suzuki had three hits, scored twice and made a game-saving catch to help the Mariners beat the Cleveland Indians for the third straight game, 5-3 Sunday.

"The only thing that was in my mind as soon as the bat made contact was to catch it," Suzuki said of his game-ending catch. "Just like a dog chasing after a Frisbee."

With one runner on and two outs in the ninth, a leaping Suzuki caught Victor Martinez's bid for a game-tying, two-run homer. Replays were inconclusive as to whether it would have been a homer or extra-base hit off the yellow line atop the right-field wall, but the catch did give David Aardsma his 22nd save in 24 chances.

"I thought it was out," said Aardsma, who tossed up his hands in glee when he saw the ball in Suzuki's glove. "How do you not get a huge rush? With Ichiro you never know, he might be standing on top of that wall to try and catch it. For him to make a play like that in a big situation to win the game, it doesn't come bigger than that."

Suzuki went 3 for 4 with a walk, raising his average to .363. He opened the day second to Minnesota's Joe Mauer (.367) in the AL batting race.

The nine-time All-Star also became the ninth player since 1901 with 20 or more steals in each of his first nine seasons, including such Hall of Famers as Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Smith and Luis Aparicio.

Shawn Kelley (2-1) struck out two over one scoreless inning for the win - Seattle's sixth in eight games.

The Indians, who won the opener of the four-game series but have lost 21 of 28, struck out 12 times to put their season total at 709. They became the third team, following Texas and Tampa Bay to fan 700 times this season.

"Offensively, I still believe in these guys," manager Eric Wedge said. "I thought Victor's ball had a chance."

The Mariners broke a 3-all tie on pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan's sacrifice fly off Rafael Betancourt (1-2) in the eighth inning. Suzuki singled to open the ninth and later scored on a fielder's choice by Franklin Guttierez off Kerry Wood to make it 5-3.

Seattle took a quick 3-0 lead off Cleveland starter Aaron Laffey.

Russell Branyan followed Suzuki's game-opening single with his 23rd homer, a 426-foot shot to right-center. With one out, Chris Shelton doubled past third baseman Jhonny Peralta and scored on a sharp single by Gutierrez to make it 3-0.

"The ball Branyan hit was down and in - right in his wheelhouse," Laffey said. "After that, I stayed on top of my sinker and got a little better action and some groundballs."

Mariners manager Dan Wakamatsu intended on giving Branyan a day off. The first baseman, battling some tightness in his back, told Wakamatsu he wanted to play, so Ken Griffey, Jr., got the day off instead to rest an aching knee.

Ben Francisco snapped an 0 for 12 streak with a two-run homer off Seattle starter Erik Bedard in the second that got Cleveland to 3-2.

The Indians tied it in the fifth with an unearned run. Grady Sizemore scored from second when second baseman Jose Lopez simply missed Martinez's easy two-out grounder right at him for an error.

Bedard was seeking his first win in six weeks in his third start since coming off the disabled list July 7. The left-hander has not won since beating Minnesota 4-2 on June 7 when he left after five innings with an inflamed left shoulder.

Bedard gave up two earned runs and four hits over 4 2-3 innings, striking out six and walking three.

Laffey gave up three runs and nine hits over six innings in his second start since six weeks on the disabled list with a strained right oblique.


Indians RHP Jake Westbrook threw a simulated game and said he felt "great". Westbrook, who had Tommy John surgery in June 2008, had experienced soreness during a minor league rehab assignment in June. ... Seattle C Kenji Johjima sat the final three games of the series after collecting three hits on Thursday. "Getting hits isn't the most important thing," manager Dan Wakamatsu said. "We're predicated right now on pitching and defense." Johjima let two wild pitches and a couple of other balls get past him without men on base Thursday. ... Indians OF Shin-Soo Choo is in a 3-for-32 (.094) slump. ... Gutierrez had five hits including two homers in the series against his former team. He has hit safely in 25 of his last 27 games.


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