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Giambi saves the day

By Jim Cour The Associated Press
Tuesday April 09, 2002

SEATTLE — Art Howe wanted to talk about his left fielder’s defense, too. 

“How about Jeremy Giambi?” the Oakland Athletics manager said. “What a catch, huh? That was the game-saver he made right there.” 

Rookie Carlos Pena hit his fourth home run, and Eric Chavez returned to the lineup with a homer and three RBIs as Oakland beat the Seattle Mariners 6-5 Sunday night. 

Tim Hudson (1-0) pitched six solid innings, allowing one run and four hits. But Giambi, not known for his defense or speed, made sure Hudson was a winner. 

With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Giambi hauled in Mike Cameron’s long drive with a fine running catch on the warning track to preserve a 3-2 lead. 

The A’s were surprised their left fielder made the play. Giambi wasn’t. 

“I was going to try,” he said. “The wall wasn’t going to get in my way. Huddy threw a heck of a game and that would have been the turning point in the game if that ball would have got in there.” 

Cameron, a Gold Glove center fielder, thought he had a three-run double. 

“I didn’t think he was going to get to it,” Cameron said. “I thought it was in the gap. But he made a good play, a real good play.” 

The A’s took two of three from their AL West rivals in a series matching teams that reached the playoffs the last two seasons. 

When the Mariners tied the major league record with 116 wins last year, they went 10 series into the season before losing one. Toronto won two of three in early May. 

“We will bounce back,” Cameron said. “If we don’t, we’re in trouble.” 

Playing without injured slugger Jermaine Dye and missing Chavez for two games, the A’s out-homered the Mariners 6-2. Oakland has hit 11 homers to three for Seattle. 

Chavez, a Gold Glove third baseman, was back in the lineup as the designated hitter after missing three games because of tightness in his lower back. 

He came through with his second homer of the season and a two-run double. 

Pena connected for a two-run shot off Jamie Moyer (0-1) in the fifth for a 2-1 lead. Chavez’s solo shot made it 3-1 in the sixth. 

Chavez came into the game with a .364 career batting average (4-for-11) against Moyer. 

“That’s probably one of the main reasons why I was in the lineup,” Chavez said. “If I didn’t have good numbers against him, Skip probably would have had me sit out another day.” 

Chavez added a two-run double in the eighth off Arthur Rhodes. 

Trailing 6-2, the Mariners made it close with three runs in the eighth on Ichiro Suzuki’s two-run triple and Mark McLemore’s sacrifice fly. 

Billy Koch, Oakland’s seventh pitcher, got the final four outs for his second save. 

Jeff Cirillo, who was 1-for-5, stranded seven runners. He hit .143 (3-for-21) in his first week with the Mariners after coming over in an offseason trade with Colorado. 

A career .311 hitter, Cirillo was visibly upset after the game. 

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities,” he said. “It’s hard to explain.” 

Seattle manager Lou Piniella was asked if he was considering fiddling with his lineup. 

“Fiddling with it?” he replied. “I don’t own a violin. What am I going to do? We just started the season. Let these guys play.” 

Hudson wiggled out of bases-loaded jams in the fourth and sixth. 

“I got some lucky breaks,” he said. “I really had to bear down. That’s a good-hitting ballclub. I was holding my breath pretty m uch the whole game.”