SEATTLE (AP) – Alex Liddi hit the first major league grand slam by an Italian-born player in half-century, Kevin Millwood threw six shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners took two of three from division-leading Texas with a 5-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday.
Liddi made Texas manager Ron Washington pay for the decision to pitch around Dustin Ackley with one out in the fifth inning. Ackley was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Liddi lined the first pitch from Scott Feldman (0-2) just over the yellow line on top of the left-field wall for his third homer this season. He also doubled and scored Seattle’s first run.
Millwood (3-4) was brilliant for a third consecutive start. Coming off a two-hitter at Colorado, Millwood gave up three hits in six innings. Only a high pitch count ended his day early.
Texas, which hasn’t been shut out this season, scored when Josh Hamilton doubled just under the glove of Justin Smoak in the eighth to drive in Ian Kinsler. Adrian Beltre followed with a two-run homer depositing a hanging curveball from Tom Wilhelmsen into the bullpens in left field. Wilhelmsen finished off the eighth, and Brandon League pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.
Millwood silenced yet another former team, and holding the top offense in baseball to just three hits might have been more impressive than his complete-game effort against the Rockies. Millwood has gone 17 straight innings without allowing a run. Dating back to a three-run second inning against Detroit on May 8, Millwood has given up just one run in his last 25 innings. The 17 straight scoreless innings is the second-longest streak of his career.
And he had to do some impressive pitching to keep that streak going against the Rangers, twice stranding runners at third base. Millwood struck out two and walked one in picking up his third straight victory following a 0-4 star.
Liddi was the lone hitting star for Seattle, which won with only four hits. He doubled in the first, but was caught too far off the bag when Ichiro Suzuki lined out and was doubled up to end the inning. Feldman then walked the bases loaded to begin the third, and Michael Saunders’ fly ball to center was deep enough to score Kyle Seager.
Saunders opened the fifth with a walk and Mike Carp followed with a bloop single that fell into shallow left and just out of the reach of shortstop Elvis Andrus. Saunders and Carp advanced 90 feet when Ian Kinsler failed to catch Feldman’s pickoff attempt at second base, but held as Brendan Ryan grounded out to shortstop with the infield playing in.
Dustin Ackley was walked intentionally to bring up Liddi. Given a high fastball to start the at-bat, Liddi turned on the pitch, lining it down the left-field line and barely clearing the hand-operated scoreboard. Liddi’s slam was just the second in major league history by an Italian born player. Reno Bertoia hit a grand slam on May 7, 1958, for Detroit against Washington.
Feldman was make a spot start in place of Neftali Felix who went on the disabled list on Monday, and whether Feldman gets another turn next week will be up for debate. Aside from giving up the grand slam to Liddi, Feldman struggled with his control, tying his career high with five walks.
NOTES: Liddi’s grand slam was the second this season for Seattle. Saunders hit a grand slam earlier this month in Toronto. — The Rangers had won five straight road series vs. AL West foes. – Millwood was 0-2 with a 10.05 ERA in three starts at Safeco Field this season coming in.
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