BALTIMORE — Ichiro Suzuki went 5-for-5 in the first game of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday and produced another hit in one at-bat in the second game, boosting his average to an American-League high .355.
the American League batting race. Baltimore swept the Mariners 9-7 and 5-4.
The Mariners lost both games as Ichiro took over the lead in the race for the batting title from Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who went hitless in a game against the Texas Rangers.
In the first game, Ichiro led off with a triple, had two infield hits and singled to right twice for his second five-hit outing in the majors. The Orioles beat the Mariners 9-7.
“It was very important for me not to make outs,” said Ichiro after his five hits in the first game.
He did not start the nightcap because of flu-like symptoms, but entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and drilled a comebacker to the mound for a hit in the eighth as the Mariners fell 5-4 to Orioles.
Ichiro took over the league batting lead for the first time since Aug. 27, 2003.
“I know there are some players who are losing their motivation because we are in a losing situation. But I wonder about that. Those are the players who are looking for an excuse to run away. This is exactly when we really have to do our jobs the best,” he said.
After the second game, Rafael Palmeiro walked through the Orioles’ clubhouse with a white tube sock that contained a baseball he considered priceless.
Scrawled on the outside of the sock was the number of hits he has in the majors, 2,874, one more than Babe Ruth.
After going 2-for-3 in the day game to tie Ruth for 36th place, Palmeiro moved past the Bambino in the night game with a fourth-inning single to right off Jamie Moyer. It was Palmeiro’s lone hit of the game, but it’s one he will never forget.
“It won’t sink in until I can really sit back and understand what I’ve done,” Palmeiro said. “I mean it’s Babe Ruth. In a lot of people’s eyes, he was the greatest hitter of all time. I’m nowhere close to that, but at least for one day, I can say I have one more hit than Babe.”
Seattle, which stranded 11 runners in the first game and 14 in the second, has lost five straight and eight of nine.
“We had some opportunities to blow the games wide open,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re just leaving too many guys on. We’re swinging the bat a lot better but we’re not getting that big hit when we need it.”
Despite totaling 31 hits, including 16 in the opener, the Mariners were swept in a doubleheader for the first time since Aug. 24, 1988, also at Baltimore.
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