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Try, try, try again Mariners finally win

4/3/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- If all of the Seattle Mariners' wins are this tumultuous, new manager Bob Melvin won't last long.

Ben Davis hit a leadoff homer in the 11th inning as the Mariners blew two late leads but still got Melvin his first victory, beating the Oakland Athletics 7-6 Thursday.

Seattle led 4-3 in the ninth, but Scott Hatteberg tied it with
an RBI single off closer Kazuhiro Sasaki. After Mike Cameron drove
home pinch-runner Mark McLemore with a sacrifice fly off Keith
Foulke in the 10th, Terrence Long hit a one-out homer to right off
Jeff Nelson (1-0) to tie it again.

The excitement was lost on Melvin, the San Francisco Bay area native who took over for Lou Piniella in the offseason.

"They made me work for that first one,'' Melvin said. "By the (11th) inning, I was peeking around the door of the dugout bathroom. I asked (pitching coach) Bryan Price: 'Does it have to be this hard?' I don't know how many of those games you can survive in a season."

Davis' first hit of the season was a homer to left-center off Ricardo Rincon (0-1), and the catcher nearly sprinted around the bases.

"I don't hit very many of them, so I don't want anyone to notice when I hit one,'' Davis said of his 27th career homer. "It's going to be like this a lot in our division. There's going to be a lot of close games, and we're going to have to get used to it."

McLemore added a run-scoring double in the 11th, and it turned out to be very necessary.

Oakland loaded the bases with a single, an error and an
intentional walk. Nelson allowed a sacrifice fly to Jermaine Dye
before striking out Adam Piatt with runners on second and third to
end it.

"It was aggravating, but at the same time, it was a good sign to see us battle back,'' said Mark Ellis, who scored on Dye's sacrifice fly.

Ichiro Suzuki had three hits, and Edgar Martinez drove in two runs as the Mariners avoided a season-opening series sweep and gave Oakland manager Ken Macha his first loss.

"Maybe people put a little extra pressure on themselves because we're trying to get Bob's first win," said Nelson, who threw 55 pitches in two innings. "At least we've got something to show for all the work we had to do."

The game was the first of two makeup games from the teams' canceled trip to Japan; the second will be played on June 30.

Mark Mulder didn't meet the standard set by fellow Oakland
starters Tim Hudson and Barry Zito in the first two games of the
series. Hudson and Zito allowed one run in 14 combined innings, but
Mulder was erratic from the start, allowing Martinez's RBI
groundout and Bret Boone's run-scoring double in the first inning.

"I didn't know where the ball was going the first couple of innings," Mulder said. "I was falling behind way too much. I felt great, but I just didn't get it done."

Suzuki had a run-scoring single in the fourth, and Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk. In front of 6,295 fans in the cavernous Coliseum, Mulder allowed eight hits and four walks in six innings.

Joel Pineiro gave up five hits and three walks in six innings,
but he retired eight straight batters at one point and generally
stayed in control, though Erubiel Durazo drove in his sixth run in
his first three games with Oakland.

In the ninth, Chris Singleton singled and advanced to second on Ellis' bunt -- a surprising move for a team assembled by Oakland GM Billy Beane and former manager Art Howe, who both have considerable disdain for sacrifice bunts.

Game notes
Suzuki, who got all three of his hits off Mulder, is
10-for-20 in his career against the left-hander. ... The A's had a
six-game winning streak in the regular season dating back to 2002.
... Last season, Mulder asked the A's to turn off the Coliseum
scoreboard that displays pitch speed because he was worried about
his velocity after having arm trouble. Mulder is fine now, but the
speed gun still was turned off. ... John Olerud made a diving stop
on Miguel Tejada's grounder down the line in the seventh. Tejada
clapped at Olerud's play while he ran down the basepath.