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Suzuki's slam ties Japanese record

ICHIRO Suzuki has tied the record for most career hits by a Japanese player, hitting a grand slam in his season debut following his first career trip to the disabled list.

Suzuki hit a pitch from Los Angeles' Angels reliever Jason Bulger four rows into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the seventh inning for his first slam since July 18, 2003. Suzuki knew the 74th home run of his nine-year major league career was gone immediately. He dropped his bat and just watched - along with some fans back in Japan - before breaking into a proud trot.

It gave the Mariners an 11-3 lead - and more thrills to a crowd of 18,516 that was already buzzing from Ken Griffey Jr's 613th career home run three innings earlier.

Ichiro, an eight-time All Star and eight-time Gold Glove outfielder, tied Isao Harimoto's Japanese record with hit No. 3,085.

A Japanese television network flew Harimoto to Seattle for the game.

Suzuki had 1,278 hits in nine seasons with Orix of the Japanese Pacific League and has 1,807 in eight with the Mariners. Harimoto played 23 seasons with the Toei Flyers (who later became the Nippon Ham Fighters), Yomiuri and Lotte.

Suzuki, 35, went on the 15-day DL after he was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer that caused him to miss the final days of spring training. The ulcer had stopped bleeding by the time Suzuki was diagnosed, but severe fatigue forced the move to give Suzuki rest, against his wishes.

Seattle was off to a 6-2 start without him and had won five in a row entering Wednesday.

To make room for Suzuki, Seattle placed left-handed starter Ryan Rowland-Smith on the 15-day DL with triceps tendinitis, retroactive to April 11.

There are debates in Japan whether Suzuki owns the "true" Japanese record for hits because more than half his total is while playing in the United Sates, but Harimoto said previously he would believe Suzuki owns the true record.

"He said he told me 15 years ago he would probably break my record," Harimoto said, while watching Suzuki take batting practice on Wednesday afternoon.

"Ichiro remembers that. I don't remember that," he joked.

In another American League game, Tim Wakefield finished with a four-hitter in the Boston Red Sox's slump-snapping 8-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Wakefield, a 42-year-old knuckleballer, got within five outs of the first no-hitter of his 17-season major league career, nearly becoming the second-oldest pitcher to accomplish the feat after Nolan Ryan.

Kurt Suzuki broke it up with a one-out single to left.

Also, it was: Tigers 9, White Sox 0; Indians 5, Royals 4; Yankees 4, Rays 3; Blue Jays 12, Twins 2; and Rangers 19, Orioles 6.

In the National League, Jason Marquis hit a two-run single off Rich Harden to put Colorado ahead then pitched the Rockies over his former team the Chicago Cubs 5-2.

Marquis (2-0), who spent the previous two years with the Cubs, was booed during introductions before Monday's home opener and again on Wednesday. He hit a bases-loaded single in the second and allowed one run and five hits in seven innings.

Elsewhere in the NL, it was: Cardinals 12, Diamondbacks 7; Marlins 10, Braves 4; Mets 7, Padres 2; Astros 4, Pirates 1; Brewers 9, Reds 3; and Dodgers 5, Giants 4.


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