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3 RBIs lead Angels over Mariners 5-4

April 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Torii Hunter shrugged off stiffness in his neck and back from a pregame fender-bender to make a leaping catch above the center-field wall with two outs in the ninth inning, denying Richie Sexson of a two-run homer and preserving the Los Angeles Angels' 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night. Hunter doubled his first three times up, driving in three runs for the Angels after his new Bentley was rear-ended near the ballpark. He was waiting at a stop light about five hours before gametime when the accident occurred. No one in either vehicle was seriously injured.

"I haven't had an accident in 15 years. Then I come to L.A.," said Hunter, who signed with the Angels in the offseason. "I tried to treat myself a couple of weeks ago, and look what happened."

With a runner on first, Sexson, who had already homered twice, hit a drive off Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez. Hunter, known for his home run-stealing catches, timed his leap at the wall perfectly and came down with the ball and a big smile.

Rodriguez, pitching for the fifth time in six days, earned his seventh save.

Joe Saunders (3-0) allowed four runs and six hits over eight innings with two strikeouts and no walks. All of the runs against the left-hander came on Sexson's two homers. Sexson came in batting .218 and left with his 24th multihomer game.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (0-1) gave up singles to his first two batters before walking DH Vladimir Guerrero, who missed Thursday night's win over Kansas City because of a swollen right index finger. Hunter then lined a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line, continued to third on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's relay throw to the plate and tried to score when the ball got past catcher Kenji Johjima. But Dickey backed up the play and threw to Johjima for the tag on Hunter.

Hunter doubled his next time up, a slicing drive to right-center that grazed center fielder Ichiro Suzuki's glove as he attempted a diving catch. In the sixth, Hunter hit a drive to the fence in left-center to tie a franchise record for most doubles in a game.

The two-time All-Star could have had four consecutive doubles had it not been for third baseman Adrian Beltre, who stretched toward the foul line to backhand Hunter's vicious line drive against Arthur Rhodes in the seventh.

Dickey making his first start in the majors since April 6, 2006, was charged with five runs and eight hits over six innings while filling in for the injured Erik Bedard.

After giving up Sexson's first homer in the second inning, Saunders retired his next 12 batters before Suzuki beat out a bunt single in the sixth on a bang-bang play with Saunders taking the toss from first baseman Casey Kotchman. Moments later, Suzuki was trapped off first as Kotchman grabbed Jose Lopez's line drive for an inning-ending double play.

Seattle reliever Sean Green faced three batters in the seventh, hitting two batters. Guerrero took one flush on the left side of the helmet as he went into a defensive crouch, but stayed in the game.

Notes: Mariners longtime play-by-play man Dave Niehaus, who will be inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame on July 27, received a warm round of applause from the sellout crowd of 43,939 when he was shown on the video board after the first inning. ... Hunter was the first player to hit three doubles in a game for the Angels since June 27, 2005, when Juan Rivera did it at Texas. ... In his previous start in the big leagues with Texas, Dickey tied a modern-day major league record by surrendering six home runs in a 10-6 loss to Detroit. He was sent to the minors the next day. ... Saunders has pitched eight innings in three of his first four starts. His longest outing in 14 starts last season was 7 2-3 innings.

 

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