Ken Griffey Jr. is enjoying his strong finish tothe season.
Griffey hit his 630th career home run to help the SeattleMariners beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 Saturday night.
Griffey opened the fourth inning with a line shot over theright-field wall, his 19th this season. It came off a 3-1 pitchfrom Tommy Hunter (9-6).
He has three home runs in his past four games. Over his past 24games, he is hitting .273 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs.
"I'm just going up there and hitting it," Griffey said. "Ithappens that the ball has gone out. I haven't gone up there tryingto think about hitting home runs. I'm trying to hit the ballhard."
Griffey returned to Seattle this season on a one-year free agentdeal after playing nine years in Cincinnati. Neither Griffey northe club has made a commitment to next season. Griffey hasindicated that he would be interested in playing one more season ifthe Mariners show an interest.
"We're still kicking it around. It's important that we finishthe year out (Sunday) and worry about it later," he said. "We'llsee. I'm not in any rush. We've got a long offseason and there'sgoing to be some changes. Hopefully, it works out."
Ichiro Suzuki had three hits to raise his batting average to.352 and give him 224 hits.
Ryan Rowland-Smith (5-4) worked through trouble to earn thevictory. He went 6 2-3 innings, allowing one run and six hits. Hewalked two and struck out four.
"It was a great game by Rowland-Smith," Mariners manager DonWakamatsu said. "Rowland-Smith has done it over a period of time.He gives us a belief system that this guy is going to be a force inour rotation next year."
Miguel Batista, working the ninth in place of closer DavidAardsma, earned his first save in five opportunities. His onlyother save as a Mariner was April 2, 2008, against Texas.
"What he did by hitting that home run is nothing new to me,"Rangers' manager Ron Washington said of Griffey. "Kenny may nothave the consistency of hitting home runs out of the ballpark likehe did when he was younger, but he is still a dangerous hitter upthere and if you make a mistake he will make you pay."
Hunter went 4 1-3 innings, giving up nine hits and two runs.
The Mariners scored another run in the fifth, but had potentialfor more. Josh Wilson opened with a double into the left-fieldcorner. Suzuki followed with his third single. He is second in theAmerican League behind Minnesota's Joe Mauer (.366) in hitting.
Franklin Gutierrez singled to left, scoring Wilson. Jose Lopezflied out to left with Suzuki tagging and taking third. Gutierrezstole second, opening first for Griffey to be intentionally walked.Adrian Beltre struck out and Kenji Johjima flied to center.
Texas scored in the seventh. Chris Davis doubled to open theinning. Andruw Jones walked and Elvis Andrus hit a ground-ruledouble that bounced into the right-field seats.
With runners on second and third and no outs, Rowland-Smithstruck out Taylor Teagarden and induced Julio Borbon to fly out toshallow center.
"Kenji (catcher) came out and said, 'you have an open base sowe can pitch around Teagarden,' " Rowland-Smith said. "I told himI want to go after this guy. If I can get him, I had a lefty comingup. I've been doing well against lefties."
Shawn Kelley then took over for Rowland-Smith. He walked IanKinsler to load the bases. Michael Young then launched a drive intothe right-center gap but Gutierrez brought it down on the warningtrack after a long run.
"Credit has to go to Guti. He has done that so many times thisyear," Wakamatsu said. "That ball was absolutely hammered toright and for him to make the catch gives us a good chance to win.I think he's the best center fielder in the game right now."
The Mariners earned their 34th one-run victory, extending theclub record.
NOTES: Suzuki leads the majors with 73 multiple-hit games, 19with at least three hits. ... Lopez extended his hitting streak to12 games with a seventh-inning double. ... The Rangers will counterwith RHP Scott Feldman (17-6, 3.90) against Felix Hernandez."It'll be good for him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said."It'll be a heck of a challenge going against King Felix. Butthere have been challenges for him all year. I expect him to meetthat one."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times