Meche does it again, beats Braves, Maddux

Though they scored just five runs for the second series in a row, the Seattle Mariners got tremendous pitching and took two of three from Atlanta over the weekend. In doing so, they equaled the Braves for the best record in baseball at 45-22. They'll host the Anaheim Angels on Monday, just the second-time all season they've had to play on the first day of the week.

While it was the Ichiro Suzuki and Bret Boone show on the offensive side of the ball, nobody will remember that a month from now.

What they will remember is the future-star, Gil Meche, outdueling the future Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux, in a classic 2-1 battle in front of another packed house Sunday at Safeco Field.

Maddux continued his recent string of solid outings after a shaky start to the season, limiting Seattle to five hits in his seven innings on the mound.

But thanks to Ichiro, who had two of those hits and stole three bases on the night, and Boone, who had both of the Mariners' RBI, Maddux's stellar performance was overshadowed by the dominance of Meche.

Meche, just 24-years-old and coming off of two arm surgeries, improved his record to 9-3 by allowing only four hits through 7.1 innings. The Louisianna native struck out six while walking only two, as his season ERA dipped to 3.13.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Arthur Rhodes each pitched two-thirds innings of scoreless releif, and Jeff Nelson came on to record the final out - a Julio Franco flyout to right deep right field with a runner on second base - to record his fifth save.

Maddux, who has four Cy Young awards to his credit as well as 15-straight season with at least 15 wins, dropped to an uncharacteristic 5-6 on the year. His ERA of 4.44 is hard to imagine, especially since Maddux hasn't had a season ERA in the four-range since 1987.

The win by Seattle moved them to 45-22, tied with Atlanta for the best record in baseball. The Mariners stayed seven games up on Oakland, who swept its three game series with a very tough Montreal squad.

Seattle put the pressure on early, scoring its first run in the first inning thanks to the wheels of Ichiro. The line-drive hitting rightfielder singled to lead of the game, stole second, and scored on a double to left by Boone.

Two innings later, it was the same two Mariners that did the damage off of Maddux and the Braves. Ichiro led off the third with an infield single, then stole second base, swiped third as well, and scored on a groundout by Boone.

Atlanta's lone run came off of Meche in the sixth, when the Braves went on a two-out, nobody on rally. Shortstop Rafael Furcal singled, Marcus Giles walked and Gary Sheffield squirted a ball past Boone to score Furcal from second.

That was it for the Braves however, as Meche kept his composure and got Chipper Jones to ground out to end the threat.

Seattle will continue it's homestand with a four-game series against Anaheim starting Monday.

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