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Right said Freddy

Garcia aces Red Sox as Mariners take two of three

Posted: Sunday August 17, 2003 6:53 PM
Updated: Sunday August 17, 2003 9:41 PM
  Freddy Garcia Garcia retired 17 consecutive batters between the third and eighth inning. AP

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Mariners will have a much easier time winning the AL West if Freddy Garcia is off to another winning streak in his roller-coaster season.

Garcia won his second straight start after dropping six consecutive decisions as the Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1 on Sunday.

By taking two of three from the Red Sox in the teams' first series of the season, the Mariners stayed four games in front of Oakland.

"I think he's had enough of all this, and he's just going out there and dealing with each pitch and not thinking about anything else," manager Bob Melvin said of Garcia. "For me, the most important thing for him is his confidence. He always has good stuff. It's when he's not confident that he backs off from his stuff."

Trot Nixon hit his 23rd homer of the season, a 412-foot shot to center, in the third inning before Garcia (11-12) settled down and retired 17 in a row before walking Nixon with two outs in the eighth.

Athletics 7, Blue Jays 3
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Terrence Long drove in three runs, and the Oakland Athletics roughed up Roy Halladay in a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

Barry Zito pitched seven solid innings, winning his second start in a row following a career-worst five-game losing streak.

Ramon Hernandez hit a two-run single for Oakland, which remained four games behind first-place Seattle in the AL West but moved into a tie with Boston in the wild card race.

Click here for game recap. 
 
 

Bill Mueller followed with a ground-rule double to put runners at second and third before Rafael Soriano came in and struck out Nomar Garciaparra on three pitches to end the inning.

The right-handed Garcia pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits and two walks, with a season-high eight strikeouts.

Garcia, a two-time All-Star and Seattle's opening day pitcher, was the AL Pitcher of the Month in June with a 5-0 record and a 2.05 ERA. He then dropped six of seven decisions with a 9.51 ERA.

In Garcia's last three starts, including a loss on Aug. 7 at Cleveland, his ERA is 1.71.

"He was outstanding today," Mariners catcher Ben Davis said. "His fastball was tremendous, his changeup was very good and his slider was probably the best I've seen it all year."

Garcia almost came out of the Mariners' rotation after giving up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in a 12-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 1. It was the shortest outing of his career.

"He's had three great outings in a row now," Davis said. "Obviously, he's not going to be like this every game. But the way he was throwing the ball today was spectacular."

Garcia has been the target of a lot of booing at Safeco Field this season. This time, he received a standing ovation when he left the field.

"I had a good day," Garcia said. "I had everything. I relaxed and made my pitch. When you know you have all your stuff, you're pretty much confident and throw your pitch."

Shigetoshi Hasegawa pitched the ninth and made it 13 saves in 13 opportunities since taking over as closer for Kazuhiro Sasaki, who was injured. Hasegawa retained the role when Sasaki returned to the bullpen on Thursday.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, fell five games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and dropped into a tie with the Athletics in the wild-card race.

The Mariners scored three runs on four hits off soft-throwing veteran John Burkett (9-7) in the fourth.

Edgar Martinez drew a two-out walk from Burkett and went to second on a passed ball by Jason Varitek before Randy Winn doubled him in to tie the score at 1.

John Mabry, hitting only .173 at gametime, followed with a double, his second hit of the day, to bring in Winn. Rey Sanchez's infield single put runners at the corner and Ben Davis singled in Mabry.

"It was a disappointing inning," Burkett said. "My season seems like that. Giving up all my runs in one inning. It's unbelievable. How many times has that happened?"

Burkett said Mabry's double that put Seattle ahead was the key Mariners' hit of the game.

"That was the only pitch that was hit hard," Burkett said. "Mabry did a really good job of putting that ball in the gap."

Mabry, who was signed as a free agent in January for his second stint in Seattle, got only his 12th RBI in 49 games for the Mariners. He's had 78 at bats this season.

But he improved his lifetime average against Burkett to .364 (8-for-22), with a homer and three RBIs.

"This feels awesome," Mabry said. "You keep working and keep pushing, and hopefully the hits start falling."

Burkett, who lost his second straight and for the third time in four starts, pitched 6 2-3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and one walk, with six strikeouts.

Notes: Garcia has surrendered 27 home runs this season, second on the Mariners to Ryan Franklin's 29. ... All three games of the Red Sox series were sellouts, giving the Mariners 19 for the season. They had 36 sellouts last season when they led the majors in attendance for the second straight year with 3.5 million fans at Safeco Field. They have 15 home games left in 2003. ... The Red Sox, who lead the majors with a .288 team batting average, are hitting .248 in August, when they're 8-9.

 
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