Twins stop Ichiro, Mariners in extras

Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre runs down the Twins' Joe Mauer for an out as Mauer tries to steal home in the 10th inning of a MLB baseball game Friday at Safeco Field in Seattle.<BR><I>AP?photo</I>

SEATTLE - The Minnesota Twins ended Ichiro Suzuki's hitting streak at 27 games, and took advantage of Seattle left fielder Wladimir Balentien's two 10th-inning misplays to beat the Mariners 2-1 on Friday night.

Pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. fouled out against Twins closer Joe Nathan before Suzuki - with the crowd of 35,808 of chanting, pleading "Eee-chee-ro!" - struck out for the final out, ending his team-record hitting streak.

Francisco Liriano pitched six strong innings to perhaps save his place in the rotation and help the Twins win for the fourth time in five games. Matt Gurrier (2-0) allowed one hit in 1 2-3 innings, and Nathan finished for his 11th save in 13 chances.

Felix Hernandez allowed one run in seven innings, and Mike Sweeney homered for the Mariners, who lost for the third time in eight games and had just four hits.

Recently hot Joe Mauer, who was left at the plate in the top of the ninth when Denard Span was thrown out trying to steal, doubled off Mark Lowe (0-3) leading off the 10th. Balentien took a circling path to the ball before it fell on the warning track by his side. After an intentional walk to Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel hit a drive that center fielder Franklin Gutierrez leaped to catch in the heel of his glove at the top of the wall for the first out, as Mauer advanced to third.

Matt Tolbert, who entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth, then executed a suicide squeeze bunt. But Seattle rookie manager Don Wakamatsu ordered a pitchout at the perfect time, and Mauer was out after a short rundown. Tolbert, batting .179, then hit a line drive that Balentien first came in on, then ran back and had it go past his glove for an error.

Liriano, the formerly rising star who at 2-7 was in danger of falling out of the Twins' rotation after lasting only four innings in three consecutive starts, seemingly earned a reprieve.


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