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Athletics Fall From First Place

From Associated Press

Ichiro Suzuki got one hit and plenty of help in knocking Oakland out of first place.

Suzuki’s fifth-inning single gave him 255 hits, two shy of George Sisler’s 84-year-old major league record, and the Seattle Mariners sent the Athletics into second place in the American League West for the first time since Aug. 5 with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night at Oakland.

Suzuki has four games left to get the record.

The star leadoff hitter was booed when he stepped into the batter’s box in the first inning, then walked on a full count. He struck out swinging in the third, then hit an infield single to shortstop in the fifth. He grounded out to second to start the eighth on a 13-pitch at-bat, then was plunked in the back by Justin Duchscherer in the ninth.

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The Mariner brass -- President Chuck Armstrong and Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Lincoln -- flew to Oakland on Wednesday to see Suzuki go for Sisler’s mark, set in 1920 after he capped his stellar season for the St. Louis Browns with 57 hits in 30 September games.

Bobby Madritsch (6-3) pitched a three-hitter for his first career complete game. He walked four and struck out four.

The A’s had been in sole possession of first place for 53 days until losing to Seattle, 7-2, on Tuesday night. Oakland, which had lost seven of nine, fell a game behind Angels in the division after the Angels held on for an 8-7 win at Texas in 11 innings.

The Angels and A’s play three games in Oakland this weekend to finish the season.

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Rich Harden has been Oakland’s most reliable starter recently, and on Wednesday he was good enough to record a rare strikeout of Suzuki. But Harden (11-7) blew it in the eighth when he gave up a one-out single to Randy Winn, then a double off the wall in left to Bret Boone.

Ricardo Rincon relieved and struck out Raul Ibanez. Jim Mecir entered to face Jolbert Cabrera, who drove in two runs with a single to right, adding to his fourth-inning run-scoring double.

Moments later, an uncharacteristic throwing error by center fielder Mark Kotsay on Jeremy Reed’s single scored Cabrera.

The A’s, the two-time defending division champs, had a four-game lead entering play on Sept. 5, but have gone 8-15 since. They are 11-16 this month.

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Oakland was 70-30 the last four Septembers -- the best mark in the majors.

New York 5-5, Minnesota 3-4 -- With a doubleheader sweep of the Twins at New York, the Yankees moved to the verge of clinching their seventh AL East title in a row.

Mariano Rivera saved both games, raising his total to a career-high 53.

New York, closing in on three straight 100-win seasons for the first time in team history, will clinch the division with one more win or one Red Sox loss.

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“We said all along if Boston wins 110, 115 games, they deserve the division,” said Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who hit a tiebreaking two-run triple in the first game. “We took care of our business on this side, and we have one more to go.”

Tampa Bay 9, Boston 4 -- The Devil Rays damaged the Red Sox’s slim chance of winning the AL East by defeating Pedro Martinez at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Martinez (16-9) has lost four starts in a row for the first time with the Red Sox.

Baltimore 7-4, Toronto 6-0 -- Rick Bauer pitched six innings of three-hit ball to help the Orioles complete a doubleheader sweep at Baltimore.

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In the opener, Rafael Palmeiro hit two homers, to give him 551 in his career, and watched Miguel Tejada break his single-season club record for runs batted in. Tejada has 143 RBIs.

Cleveland 5, Kansas City 2 -- Cliff Bartosh earned his first major league victory with one inning of perfect relief at Kansas City, Mo., as the Royals lost their club-record 101st game of the season.

Chicago 11, Detroit 2 -- Carlos Lee hit a grand slam and a two-run homer, and Freddy Garcia pitched seven scoreless innings to lead the White Sox at Detroit.


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