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Mariners win, force Game 5 |

Mariners win, force Game 5

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Nine outs away from having all those wins and records overshadowed by failure, the Seattle Mariners simply wouldn’t let their special season end.

They didn’t panic. Instead, they did whatever it took.

And they won again.

Rookie Ichiro Suzuki provided the key hit and the Mariners staved off an early postseason exit Sunday, rallying for a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians to force a decisive Game 5 back in Seattle.

”It was down to nine outs,” outfielder Mike Cameron said. ”There was no tension. It was just a matter of swinging the bats and waiting for that one break.”

Take a deep breath, Seattle.

Just when it looked like the Mariners would tie the 1906 Chicago Cubs again, Suzuki delivered a go-ahead RBI single and baseball’s best team this season got the biggest of its 118 wins.

Suzuki’s hit highlighted a three-run, seventh-inning rally as Seattle, which won 116 games during the regular season, avoided the same fate as the ’06 Cubs — the team whose wins record the Mariners matched. Chicago did not win a World Series title that year.

The Mariners came back against Bartolo Colon (1-1), who shut them out for eight innings in Game 1 and blanked them for the first six yesterday after a 2-hour, 20-minute rain delay.

”We battled back from adversity all season,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said. ”We weren’t going to lose because of the pressure. We were going to lose because the other team outplayed us.”

Suzuki went 3 for 5, and Edgar Martinez hit a two-run homer in the ninth for the Mariners, who were blown out 17-2 and played possibly their worst game all season in Game 3 on Saturday.

”We got our butts kicked,” second baseman Bret Boone said. ”But remember, I said this team is ready.”

Freddy Garcia (1-1) pitched 6{1/3} innings for the win.

Jamie Moyer, who beat the Indians in Game 2 and went 2-0 against them in the regular season, will start Game 5 for the Mariners today at Safeco Field against Chuck Finley.

”I’m elated about getting to pitch in a fifth game,” said Finley, who waited 15 years to make his first postseason start in Game 2 and gave up a pair of two-run homers in the first. ”I started thinking about that after Game 2. I had the feeling we might be back in Seattle anyway.”

Before Game 4, a relaxed Piniella was confident his team would go home to play another day.

”We have to take that long ride back to Seattle,” Piniella said. ”So we may as well make Cleveland take the same plane ride.”

For six innings it looked like the Mariners would fly solo, but the Indians are headed to the airport, too.

”I didn’t want to take that ride,” Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. ”But that’s the way things worked out.”

Juan Gonzalez’s second-inning homer looked like it might stand up as Colon handled the Mariners with ease for six innings.

But he walked John Olerud to open the seventh, and Stan Javier threw his bat at an outside pitch and singled to left.

The Indians tried to pick Olerud off second, but Colon’s wild throw allowed the Mariners to finally get a runner to third. Mike Cameron walked to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Al Martin grounded into a force at the plate.

David Bell followed with a fly ball down the left-field line that Marty Cordova ran down in foul territory, but it was deep enough to score Javier without a play to tie it at 1.

Manuel had left-hander Ricardo Rincon ready to face Suzuki, who led the majors in hits and batted .445 with runners in scoring position. But he stuck with Colon and Suzuki singled — his 250th hit in the regular and postseason — through the hole in right to score Cameron and give Seattle a 2-1 lead.

”The game was on the line, and Colon was on the mound,” Suzuki said through a translator. ”But I have confidence against any pitcher.”

Mark McLemore followed with another RBI single, chasing Colon, who had set a division series record with 14 consecutive scoreless innings.

”There was a little sigh of relief with each at-bat,” Jay Buhner said. ”We got a walk. The error. A sac fly. A hit. Each one was bigger and bigger, and then we just knew.”

The Indians got a run back in the bottom half off Garcia. Gonzalez opened with a wind-blown double over Cameron’s head in center and went to third on a groundout.

Jeff Nelson came on and struck out Ellis Burks on a pitch that got past catcher Tom Lampkin, allowing Burks to reach first.

Piniella, who didn’t get thrown out of a game all year for arguing, came close as he disputed the play with plate umpire Rick Reed.

Travis Fryman’s grounder off Nelson’s glove scored Gonzalez, but forced Burks at second. When Manuel sent up lefty slugger Russell Branyan to hit for Cordova, Piniella countered with hard-throwing lefty Arthur Rhodes.

Manuel sent up right-hander Wil Cordero, who just missed hitting a go-ahead homer by flying to the warning track in left.

Seattle got an insurance run in the eighth on Cameron’s RBI double.

With Suzuki on again in the ninth, Martinez hit a 458-foot homer off Paul Shuey that landed on a pedestrian walkway outside the ballpark.

Gonzalez entered the postseason looking clueless at the plate, ending the regular season in an 0-for-15 slump. But he may have found his stroke, homering in Game 3 and again leading off the second to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead.

Notes: Suzuki is batting .563 (9 for 16) in the series. … Indians SS Omar Vizquel’s error in the first was just his second in 271 chances in 56 postseason games. … Hall of Famer Bob Feller threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Feller, who turns 83 next month, tossed it down the middle to rookie C.C. Sabathia. … Vizquel got his first steal since Aug. 1, and holds the division series record with 10 steals.

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