M's lose again, but Ichiro goes 5 for 5
Special to The Seattle Times
CHICAGO — It was the Mariners' season in miniature.
Ichiro put on a five-hit show and the Mariners made a gallant comeback attempt but lost 8-7 last night to the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
The night may be most remembered for two signs of respect shown to Ichiro. Or the five home runs by the White Sox.
After Ichiro had his first three hits, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle threw him an eephus pitch in his fourth at-bat in the seventh.
"That guy has had success against me all the way," Buehrle said. "I threw the ball an inch off the ground, over his head and he still hit it. I even tried an eephus pitch. I can't get him out with my other stuff, so maybe that would work."
Ichiro is 9 for 20 lifetime against Buehrle.
"In Japan, I saw that (eephus pitch) a lot," Ichiro said. "Here it is the first time."
When his fifth hit came off rookie Jeff Bajenaru in the ninth, Ichiro drew a standing ovation from the 24,191 in attendance.
"I don't have any connections to Chicago," Ichiro said. "I really didn't know what to do."
There's bound to be more of those moments as Ichiro closes in on George Sisler's major-league record of 257 hits in one season, set in 1920. Ichiro now has a league-leading 223 hits. At the same point, Sisler had 216.
For September, Ichiro is 11 for 17. His two other five-hit games came on Aug. 3 and July 29. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
There's another kind of streak that will stick with the Mariners. They lost their fourth in a row, and this after nearly fighting back from deficits as big as 5-0 and 7-1.
In the ninth, with two outs and the bases loaded, Raul Ibanez drove a two-run single to the wall to make it 8-7. But Bret Boone was cut down at third by right fielder Timo Perez to end the game.
"Without having seen the replay, my guess is that he's got to get a better jump at first base," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "You just can't get thrown out at third on that play."
And neither should a team fall behind so much so early.
Starter Ryan Franklin had a tough night. Paul Konerko hit two home runs, and Carlos Lee and Perez hit one each as Franklin (3-14) allowed nine hits and seven earned runs in 3-2/3 innings.
"I am not pitching like myself," said Franklin, who lost his 10th straight. "I am trying too hard. I'm trying to do stuff that's not myself. It caused me to be up in the strike zone."
Melvin said: "It's been awhile since he had a win, and it starts to wear on him."
Buehrle (13-8), meanwhile, was controlling the Mariners, allowing only three runs in his seven innings.
The first came in the fourth. Ichiro slapped a single past third, advanced on a ground out by Winn and a single by Edgar Martinez, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Boone.
Ichiro also scored in the sixth on a Martinez single. Ichiro's fourth hit drove in Willie Bloomquist in the seventh. Bucky Jacobsen singled in Martinez in the eighth.
Then came the ninth. Winn singled in Bloomquist with the fifth run, setting up the finale with Boone being thrown out at third.
"That is the way this year has gone," Melvin said. "To end a game like that, it is almost surreal."
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company