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Mariners ride Suzuki to victory

His grand slam is crushing blow as Seattle stifles Red Sox

SEATTLE -- They call it Safeco Field out here in the Pacific Northwest. After what happened to the Red Sox in the bottom of the sixth last night, Boston fans will be calling it Dangerco Field. This was Freaky Friday all the way.

The cold type will show that Ichiro Suzuki's grand slam gave the Mariners a 10-5 victory and put the Sox four games behind the Yankees. But there was so much more to it than that.

Rewind to the bottom of the sixth when it was a 4-4 game. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 8.82 in three Sox starts) had been lifted after the Sox KO'd 15-game winner Jamie Moyer. In three starts since coming over from Pittsburgh, Suppan has given up 20 hits in 16 1/3 innings, including a whopping 16 extra base hits.

With one out and one on in the fateful frame, Dan Wilson hit a potential double play grounder to Todd Walker, but Walker's throw to second took Nomar Garciaparra off the bag, and both runners were safe. The immortal Willie Bloomquist was next and he hit a rocket toward short, which exploded in the dirt and blasted off Garciaparra's right shoulder. Base hit. Bases loaded.

Ichiro was next. He worked the count to 1-2 off Mike Timlin. He fouled off a couple of pitches hit a playable foul pop toward the box seats past the third base dugout. Sox third baseman Bill Muellar took chase, slid well before the wall, then watched the ball plop out of his mitt.

Ichiro put the next pitch, a 94-miler-per-hour heater, into the right-field seats to give the Mariners an 8-4 lead and the ballgame. Not even Armando Benitez could blow this one.

It was a pretty even game before the Ichiro blast. Suppan came out of the gate throwing strikes and got out of a jam in the first inning. Ichiro led with a prototype gapper to left-center. Old friend, Rey Sanchez was next and he plopped a single into left. The Sox got a break when Ichiro ignored Seattle third base coach Dave Myers and held up at third. Gabe Kapler wasn't even looking toward home, but Ichiro held, and couldn't re-start once Kapler fumbled the ball. Suppan recovered nicely, striking out Bret Boone (95 RBIs) on three pitches and getting Edgar Martinez to hit into a double play.

The Mariners got two in the second, but it could have been worse. John Olerud walked on a full count, then took third when Randy Winn slashed a double to left. Suppan fell behind Mark McLemore (who was drafted by Mike Port back in the day), then threw a meatball that McLemore drilled into right-center for a two-run double. McLemore moved to third on a ground-out then charged toward the plate when Wilson hit a hard-hopper to Garciaparra. The Sox infield was playing in. Garciaparra had to lunge to his left, glove the ball, then fire it home. McLemore beat the throw easily, but umpire Gary Darling ruled that Jason Varitek successfully blocked the plate and called McLemore out at the plate. Seattle manager Bob Melvin and the Safeco sellout (46,171) were not happy.

There was more trouble for Suppan in the third when Boone took a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right-center. It was Boone's 30th homer and the fifth allowed by Suppan in his three Red Sox starts. When Martinez scorched a double down the left-field line, pitching coach Dave Wallace came out to talk with Suppan and Casey Fossum started throwing in the bullpen.

The Sox managed nothing more than a couple of scratch singles off Moyer in the first three innings. They also lost center fielder Johnny Damon, who left after two because of tightness in his right hamstring. Damon was replaced by all-purpose man Damian Jackson.

Manny Ramirez put the Sox on the board with one out in the fourth, crushing a 1-1 Moyer snowflake to deep center for his 29th homer, his third in three games.

McLemore led with another double, this on to left-center in the fourth. He took third on a grounder and scored on Bloomquist's sacrifice fly to right.

The Sox cut it to 4-2 in the fifth when Trot Nixon doubled to right and scored on a single to right by Kapler. It felt like the momentum was shifting.

Suppan got through the fifth without giving up a run, then the Red Sox put the first two runners aboard in the top of the sixth.

Boston tied it and knocked out Moyer in the sixth. Garciaparra led with a bloop single to right, went to second when Ramirez walked, then scored when David Ortiz spanked a double to right. Walker scored Ramirez with a sacrifice fly to left and it was 4-4 with Julio Mateo coming in for Moyer.

Then came Timlin. And disaster in Dangerco Field.

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