Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Cleveland leads 1-0 (as of 4/22)

Game 1: Friday, April 22
Cleveland6Final
Seattle1
Game 2: Saturday, April 23
Cleveland5Final
Seattle2
Game 3: Sunday, April 24
Cleveland1Final
Seattle9

Indians 6

(7-10, 5-6 away)

Mariners 1

(8-9, 3-6 home)

    10:05 PM ET, April 22, 2005

    Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington 

    123456789 R H E
    CLE 500001000 6 9 0
    SEA 010000000 1 6 1

    W: C. Sabathia (1-0)

    L: G. Meche (1-1)

    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 first.

    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 strikes."

    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 strikeouts.

    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 pitcher.

    "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 6-1.

    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 guys."

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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