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Meche Wins Duel With Maddux

June 16, 2003|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Gil Meche is pitching so well that Sunday he was better than Greg Maddux at his best.

Meche, back in the major leagues after two shoulder operations, outdueled the four-time Cy Young Award winner and the Seattle Mariners defeated the Atlanta Braves, 2-1.

"My brother-in-law asked me how could I not be nervous going into this game," Meche said. "I don't know how I did it, to be honest. I just feel relaxed, no matter who I'm facing. I've known I had Maddux for the past week. I couldn't wait."

Ichiro Suzuki had two infield singles, scored the runs and stole three bases. Bret Boone drove in both runs.

The Mariners took two of three from the Braves in a matchup of the teams with the best records in each league. Each game was sold out.

"It was great for the fans, but a little tough on me," Mariner Manager Bob Melvin said. "We had well-pitched games every night. We had good defense. That's the way it happens in the postseason."

Meche (9-3) gave up four hits and combined a 96-mph fastball with a 78-mph changeup to strikeout six in 7 1/3 innings. He left to a standing ovation after giving up a one-out single to pinch-hitter Matt Franco in the eighth.

"It's happening so fast for me," Meche said. "I've already had 13 starts and nine wins. Who would have thought I'd be saying that after what I've been through?"

Maddux (5-6) was as good as ever. His 11 strikeouts were a season high and he might have been the winner if not for Suzuki's sprints to first base and Boone's run-scoring double in the first.

"That might be the best game I've seen Maddux pitch, to be honest with you," Manager Bobby Cox said. "Two infield singles, and both runs scored on that. He was flawless all day. One pitch to Boone, really, and that was it."

Maddux gave up five hits and walked none in seven innings. In the sixth, he struck out Mark McLemore for the third time -- the 2,700th strikeout of his career.

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