OAKLAND, Calif. -- Very little seems to excite Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, least of all his own accomplishments.
The Mariners right fielder moved one step closer to baseball history, picking up a pair of hits to move within four of 2,000 for his career during Seattle's 6-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, then casually downplayed his impending milestone."We have a lot of games left to play, a lot of more baseball left in the season," Suzuki said. "If there were only four or five games then I would be naturally conscious about it, but as of now I'm not."Suzuki is on pace to become the second-fastest player in major league history to reach the 2,000-hit plateau. Al Simmons did it in 1,390 games while Suzuki has played in 1,391. George Sisler is currently second on the list in 1,414 games.The 35-year-old Suzuki also moved closer to becoming the first player to have 200 hits or more in nine straight seasons. With 191 hits this season, Suzuki needs only nine more to break the consecutive season mark he currently holds with Willie Keeler (1894-1901)."It's amazing, the amount of weapons he has to get that," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He has such a feel for the ball and what he can do with his body and motion never ceases to amaze us. I watched him for a number of years and I'm glad I'm going to be a part of that."Jose Lopez homered, Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched eight innings for his first win since Aug. 9 and the Mariners moved eight games over .500 for the first time since 2007.Nomar Garciaparra homered for the A's, who have lost six straight to the Mariners and dropped a season-high 17 games under .500.Seattle scored four in the second against Oakland rookie Clayton Mortensen (0-2), who was called up from the minors earlier in the day to make only his second start in the majors."I started getting my balls up and they hit them hard," Mortensen said. "I fell behind in the count and I had to try to focus afterward on throwing my sinker down in the strike zone. I just lost my rhythm and had to take a step back and figure out how to make quality pitches."Jack Wilson hit a bases-loaded single to make it 2-0 before Suzuki chased a pitch out of the strike zone and singled to left for another run. Franklin Gutierrez followed with an RBI single to make it 4-0.Rowland-Smith (3-2), who had gone four straight starts without a win, made it hold up.The lefty allowed four hits, striking out four and walking one while going eight innings for the second straight start. He gave up a RBI double to Ryan Sweeney in the third and a two-run home run to Garciaparra in the seventh on a ball that glanced off center fielder Gutierrez's glove before going over the fence, but was otherwise solid."That's probably the funnest thing about the last couple outings is just getting deep into the game," Rowland-Smith said. "Tonight is just felt good to go out and go a full solid eight innings and just go full circle from where I was back in April."Mark Lowe pitched the ninth for his second save in eight chances, completing the five-hitter.Mortensen was strong after digging a four-run hole in the second inning.Oakland's young right-hander, who was acquired from St. Louis as part of the Matt Holliday trade on July 24, allowed only six hits and struck out one but walked three, two of which scored. Mortensen settled down to retire 16 of the final 20 batters he faced.Lopez hit his 21st home run of the season in the ninth off Oakland reliever Jeff Gray.The Mariners played without designated hitter Ken Griffey Jr., who was a late scratch after originally being penciled in at the cleanup spot. Griffey, who missed six straight games before going hitless in four at-bats Thursday, was in the original lineup submitted by Wakamatsu but was pulled out after batting practice due to a sore knee.Mike Sweeney replaced Griffey and went 1-for-5.
Wakamatsu was encouraged by RHP Carlos Silva's 15-pitch outing for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday and said the veteran pitcher could rejoin the Mariners on Tuesday in Anaheim if Tacoma is eliminated from the playoff race. If not, Silva will remain in the minors for at least one more appearance. ... The A's have now started a rookie pitcher in 97 games this season, an Oakland record and the most in the majors since Florida had 124 in 1998, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Garciaparra's homer was only his third of the season. The veteran DH also singled in the ninth.