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Dodgers Can’t Slug It Out

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

When the smoke cleared Saturday at the Kingdome, where fireworks are shot off after every home run by the home team, the Seattle Mariners had hit four homers--including Russ Davis’ game-winner in the ninth inning--to defeat the Dodgers, 9-8, before a sellout crowd of 57,345.

Ken Griffey Jr., who is on pace to hit 66 home runs and drive in 177 runs, hit his 27th home run, a 422-foot blast into the second deck in right field off Tom Candiotti in the sixth inning.

“He’s light-years ahead of me,” said Dodger catcher Mike Piazza, who hit his 12th home run in the seventh inning. “Who’s there to compete with?

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“If he stays healthy, he could hit 60 if he just keeps swinging like that.”

Dodger first baseman Eric Karros, who hit a home run in Friday night’s 6-4 victory at Oakland, hit two home runs in a game for the first time this season and seventh time in his career. He had a two-out, two-run home run in the fifth inning and hit the other with one out in the seventh.

Piazza went four for four, with his home run, two doubles and two RBIs. He is batting .588 (20 for 34) in his last eight games and .367 overall.

“We can bang with anyone,” Dodger Manager Bill Russell said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Colorado or here. Your pitching staff can’t make a mistake, because if they get the ball in the air . . .

“We can mash with them, it’s just a matter of who has the last at-bat.”

The Dodgers didn’t have the last at-bat Saturday and the Mariners won their fourth in a row as Davis hit Antonio Osuna’s 1-1 pitch with one out in the ninth over the right-field fence for his ninth homer to break an 8-8 tie. The loss was the 18th in the last 27 games for the Dodgers.

“I made a mistake,” Osuna said. “I tried to keep the ball outside, but it drifted back in.”

The Mariners increased their American League-leading home run total to 98 and also had six doubles.

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The Dodgers trailed, 5-0, after the third inning, pulled within 8-7 with their own power surge, then tied the score in the eighth inning without a hit.

Greg Gagne led off the inning with a walk against Norm Charlton, advanced to third when catcher Dan Wilson made an errant a pickoff throw, and Brett Butler, the designated hitter, executed the suicide squeeze, bunting in Gagne.

“I was aware of the fact that they might bunt,” Charlton said. “Butler may be the best bunter ever, but if you want to squeeze right there, we’ll take the tie. I always thought you played for a win on the road and a tie at home.”

The Dodgers, who didn’t arrive in Seattle until just before dawn Saturday, sent starter Ramon Martinez ahead so he could get a good night’s sleep.

But the game became a nightmare for Martinez (6-4), who gave up five runs on six hits in four innings, including two home runs in the second inning. It was his shortest stint of the season.

“I think I’d rather pitch in Colorado than here,” Martinez said. “It was crazy. Nothing went the way we wanted.”

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Edgar Martinez led off the second inning with his ninth homer. One out later, Paul Sorrento drilled his ninth homer of the season off Martinez, who had given up seven home runs in his first 14 starts.

Dan Wilson almost followed Sorrento’s homer with the third of the inning, hitting a line drive off the base of the wall in left-center. Karim Garcia played the hop well, limiting him to a double.

“That wasn’t a typical Ramon performance,” Russell said. “He threw a lot of pitches [100], so it was time to get him out because he threw a lot of pitches in his last outing. He was erratic and his control was off.”

Griffey wasn’t off, with his bat or glove. He made a spectacular leaping catch at the center-field fence to take a run-scoring extra-base hit away from Raul Mondesi to end the first inning.

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