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Mariners' Meche stymies Tribe, 4-0



Published: Thu, April 24, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Seattle's No. 5 pitcher had eight strikeouts in his longest career outing.

SEATTLE (AP) -- If Gil Meche keeps this up, he's not going to be the Seattle Mariners' No. 5 starter for long.

"To have a No. 5 guy pitch like a No. 1 guy when his stuff's all there, that's what this organization has been looking for some time out of Gil," manager Bob Melvin said after Meche pitched 72/3 innings in a 4-0 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday night.

Meche, Seattle's first-round draft pick in 1996 whose career was stalled by two major shoulder operations in 2001, tied his career high with eight strikeouts and turned in his longest career outing.

In his fourth start of the season, Meche (2-1) lowered his ERA to 3.33, second on the staff to left-hander Jamie Moyer's 3.09. He allowed five hits, all singles, and walked two.

Even better

Catcher Ben Davis said the 24-year-old pitcher was better than he looked.

"Whatever he wanted to do, he did," Davis said. "If he wanted to throw a heater past them, he did it. He had a great change-up and a real good curveball."

The right-hander missed the 2001 season and pitched for Double-A San Antonio last season. He beat out Jamie Wright, Ken Cloude and Rafael Soriano for the fifth job in Seattle's rotation this spring.

Meche hasn't given up an earned run since April 12 when Texas' Doug Glanville homered off him. He feels better now than when he pitched in Seattle's rotation in 1999 and 2000.

In great command

"Today was the best command I think I've ever had in the big leagues," he said. "I don't think I've ever had command of four pitches like I did today."

Meche said he convinced himself that he was 100 percent healthy when he pitched in Venezuela last winter. "I haven't had any problems and I know I'm not going to have any more," he said.

Rookie Ricardo Rodriguez (2-1) gave up all four runs and five hits in seven innings.

"Ricardo was good again," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "They got a couple big hits on him and capitalized on the couple opportunities they had."

The Mariners gave Meche all the support he needed in the fourth inning. Mark McLemore walked, stole second, went to third on Bret Boone's infield out and scored on Edgar Martinez's sacrifice fly. Then John Olerud hit his first homer of the season.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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