M's Griffey Jr. hits career homer No. 630 in win
Ken Griffey Jr. is enjoying his strong finish to the season.
Griffey hit his 630th career home run to help the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 Saturday night.
Griffey opened the fourth inning with a line shot over the right-field wall, his 19th this season. It came off a 3-1 pitch from Tommy Hunter (9-6).
He has three home runs in his past four games. Over his past 24 games, he is hitting .273 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs.
"I'm just going up there and hitting it," Griffey said. "It happens that the ball has gone out. I haven't gone up there trying to think about hitting home runs. I'm trying to hit the ball hard."
Griffey returned to Seattle this season on a one-year free agent deal after playing nine years in Cincinnati. Neither Griffey nor the club has made a commitment to next season. Griffey has indicated that he would be interested in playing one more season if the Mariners show an interest.
"We're still kicking it around. It's important that we finish the year out (Sunday) and worry about it later," he said. "We'll see. I'm not in any rush. We've got a long offseason and there's going to be some changes. Hopefully, it works out."
Ichiro Suzuki had three hits to raise his batting average to .352 and give him 224 hits.
Ryan Rowland-Smith (5-4) worked through trouble to earn the victory. He went 6 2-3 innings, allowing one run and six hits. He walked two and struck out four.
"It was a great game by Rowland-Smith," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Rowland-Smith has done it over a period of time. He gives us a belief system that this guy is going to be a force in our rotation next year."
Miguel Batista, working the ninth in place of closer David Aardsma, earned his first save in five opportunities. His only other save as a Mariner was April 2, 2008, against Texas.
"What he did by hitting that home run is nothing new to me," Rangers' manager Ron Washington said of Griffey. "Kenny may not have the consistency of hitting home runs out of the ballpark like he did when he was younger, but he is still a dangerous hitter up there and if you make a mistake he will make you pay."
Hunter went 4 1-3 innings, giving up nine hits and two runs.
The Mariners scored another run in the fifth, but had potential for more. Josh Wilson opened with a double into the left-field corner. Suzuki followed with his third single. He is second in the American League behind Minnesota's Joe Mauer (.366) in hitting.
Franklin Gutierrez singled to left, scoring Wilson. Jose Lopez flied out to left with Suzuki tagging and taking third. Gutierrez stole second, opening first for Griffey to be intentionally walked. Adrian Beltre struck out and Kenji Johjima flied to center.
Texas scored in the seventh. Chris Davis doubled to open the inning. Andruw Jones walked and Elvis Andrus hit a ground-rule double that bounced into the right-field seats.
With runners on second and third and no outs, Rowland-Smith struck out Taylor Teagarden and induced Julio Borbon to fly out to shallow center.
"Kenji (catcher) came out and said, 'you have an open base so we can pitch around Teagarden,' " Rowland-Smith said. "I told him I want to go after this guy. If I can get him, I had a lefty coming up. I've been doing well against lefties."
Shawn Kelley then took over for Rowland-Smith. He walked Ian Kinsler to load the bases. Michael Young then launched a drive into the right-center gap but Gutierrez brought it down on the warning track after a long run.
"Credit has to go to Guti. He has done that so many times this year," Wakamatsu said. "That ball was absolutely hammered to right and for him to make the catch gives us a good chance to win. I think he's the best center fielder in the game right now."
The Mariners earned their 34th one-run victory, extending the club record.
NOTES: Suzuki leads the majors with 73 multiple-hit games, 19 with at least three hits. ... Lopez extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a seventh-inning double. ... The Rangers will counter with RHP Scott Feldman (17-6, 3.90) against Felix Hernandez. "It'll be good for him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It'll be a heck of a challenge going against King Felix. But there have been challenges for him all year. I expect him to meet that one."