Batista's 11th win moves M's to within three of Angels

" Winning ways: Batista's 11th win matches his career-high reached in both 2001 and 2006.

" Unsung hero: Ichiro Suzuki had three hits, scored and drove in an insurance run in the seventh.

" Quotable: "We have a discussion every night about Ichiro. I'm running out of superlatives." -- Seattle
manager John McLaren

" What a relief: Closer J.J. Putz needed just six pitches to complete the four-hitter and earn his 31st save in 32 chances.

" Figure this: Kelvim Escobar lost for just the second time in 10 starts.

-- ESPN.com news services

Mariners 2, Angels 0

SEATTLE (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki has been waiting years for a series
this big in Seattle. It took him just three innings to have an

Suzuki had three hits, Miguel Batista allowed four singles in
seven innings and the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-0
Monday night in the opener of a key AL West showdown.

"We have a discussion every night about Ichiro," Seattle
manager John McLaren said, shaking his head about his seven-time
All-Star. "I'm running out of superlatives."

Suzuki scored and drove in the other run for the Mariners, who
have won four straight and moved within three of the
division-leading Angels.

Los Angeles had won four in a row, including three impressive
victories over defending AL champion Detroit. The Angels scored 34
runs against the Tigers, only the second time in their 47-year
history that they scored at least 10 runs in three consecutive

They struggled against Batista (11-7), who struck out two and
walked none in his first scoreless start this season. Brandon
Morrow pitched a scoreless eighth and J.J. Putz needed just six
pitches to complete the four-hitter and earn his 31st save in 32

Putz struck out Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero on three

"Sometimes, things switch like that," said Los Angeles manager
Mike Scioscia, whose team was shutout for the sixth time. "But
overall right now I'd say we are in better shape than we were three
weeks ago."

After Kenji Johjima and Yuniesky Betancourt singled in the
seventh, Suzuki hit a two-hopper -- the second of which shot over
the shoulder of stunned first baseman Casey Kotchman for a 2-0
lead. Fans roared and waved white T-shirts, giveaways on Salute to
Japanese Baseball Night at Safeco Field.

Suzuki led off the third inning by hitting a drive to the
right-center field wall against Kelvim Escobar (11-5), who allowed
eight hits in his third complete game this season. Suzuki then
tested the vaunted throwing arm of right fielder Guerrero by
speeding around second as Guerrero picked up the ball. He reached
third easily as Guerrero's throw was wide of the base, and scored
on Jose Vidro's single to make it 1-0.

"He is amazing," Escobar said. "You bounce the ball up there
and he will still hit it. You go outside ... you go away ... He is
just a great hitter."

Batista and Suzuki weren't downplaying the importance of
Seattle's most important series in years.

"I don't think there's anybody on this team that doesn't feel
that way," Suzuki said.

Batista added: "We know how important it is to put the pressure
on now."

The 36-year-old Batista was sharp throughout, showing why the
Mariners gave him a $25 million, three-year deal last winter and
tying his career high for wins.

"Well, I have a team that can catch and hit for me," said
Batista, who played for the Diamondbacks last season and has
pitched for eight teams in his career. "Last year, I had 14

He had some luck Monday. After Reggie Willits singled and stole
his 22nd base with two outs in the fifth, Chone Figgins backed away
from a 2-2 pitch that appeared to be off the inside edge of the
plate. Umpire Derryl Cousins called strike three to end the inning.
Figgins looked at Cousins in disbelief before telling him
forcefully "That pitch was a ball."

Figgins also struck out against Batista in the third, the middle
man in a three-batter escape. Jeff Mathis and Willits singled to
begin the inning before Batista struck out Figgins on a 91 mph
fastball and got Orlando Cabrera to foul out.

Then Guerrero, 12-for-21 in his career against Batista at that
point, hit a sinking liner. Hobbled left fielder Raul Ibanez caught
the ball inches above the grass while tumbling to end the inning
and save at least one run.

Almost everyone in the Mariners dugout had high-fives and back
slaps waiting for the 35-year-old Ibanez.

Game notes
Morrow was in the setup role now that RHP Chris Reitsma
says he's out for the season as he prepares for the fifth elbow
surgery of his career Thursday. ... Figgins was 0-for-3 with a walk
after going 11-for-17 in his previous four games.