After Many Gloomy Seasons, Sun Shining on Mariners

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Not even in the strike-interrupted season of 1981, when they had two chances, have the Mariners finished with a record of .500 or better.

Their history has been as gloomy as a rainy day in Seattle, and defeats have been as abundant in their 15 seasons as the raindrops that blanket the Pacific Northwest.

No longer. The Mariners haven't stopped the rain, but they have stopped playing doormats in the AL West. Their 5-3 victory over the Angels Friday at the Kingdome lifted their record 10 games over .500 for the first time in club history and kept them in fourth place, 5 1/2 games behind the Twins and three games behind the second-place White Sox.

"It's a nice thing to say we're the first team ever to be 10 games over .500, but I'm sure those guys are thinking of more than just being 10 games over .500," Mariner Manager Jim Lefebvre said, nodding his head toward the clubhouse. "Tomorrow, we've got to start over again and try to get 11 over. That's the way we've been approaching the whole season."

Their approach has been successful. Coming off a four-game sweep of the A's, their first four-game sweep at the Kingdome, the Mariners didn't relax Friday against the Angels. They pounced on Joe Grahe for a run in the first on Harold Reynolds' single and Ken Griffey Jr.'s double, and added three more in the third. A run in the fourth off Mike Fetters gave them margin for error, which they needed when third baseman Edgar Martinez muffed grounders in the sixth and ninth to set up Angel runs.

"We dodged some bullets tonight," Lefebvre said. "(Bill) Krueger kept us in there and Mike Jackson did a tremendous job. So did (Rob) Murphy at the end."

Krueger (10-5) became the fourth Mariner starter to reach double figures in victories, another club record. Rich DeLucia is 10-7, Brian Holman is 10-11 and Randy Johnson is 11-8.

"The pitching has kept us in it and the hitting is starting to pick up now," said Reynolds, who was two-for-four. "At the beginning of the season, everybody--the fans, the media--talked about us playing .500. Our whole perspective was to win the division. Big deal if we're 10, 20, 30 games over .500. We want to win it and we've got the team that can do it.

"We don't want to settle for milestones. You never know when you're going to be in this position again, so why not go for it?"

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