The Associated Press
SEATTLE Ÿ The Seattle Mariners are closing the season the way every team hopes it can. They are also on the verge of closing out the California Angels.
''Earlier in the season, everything was going right for them,'' Tino Martinez said yesterday after the Mariners reduced their magic number to winning the AL West to three with a 10-2 victory over the Angels. ''Now, it seems like everything is going right for us.''
The Mariners, getting home runs from Jay Buhner and Ken Griffey Jr., won for the 22nd time in 30 games to move 13 games over .500.
They have a three-game lead over the Angels, losers of 27 of 36, with five games left on the schedule. The teams meet again today in the Mariners' final home game of the season.
The Angels didn't exactly concede the division title to the Mariners, but they came close.
''The way Seattle is playing, we'd be better off concentrating on winning the wild card,'' said Chuck Finley, who will start against the Mariners today. ''They're very, very hot.''
California dropped 11/2 games behind New York in the race for the fourth playoff spot as the Yankees beat Milwaukee 5-4 Tuesday night.
''We've got to win tomorrow,'' third baseman Tony Phillips said. ''It's the most important game of the season for us. If we drop four back with four left, that's not a good situation.''
The Angels, who led by 11 games on Aug. 9, have lost 15 of their last 17 on the road and dropped nine games in the standings in the last 13 days.
Seattle has a season high seven-game winning streak and has won 15 of its last 17 at home.
''We have to put together a good, solid game tomorrow,'' Angels manager Marcel Lachemann said. ''The choices are pretty clear. You either do it or you don't.''
The Mariners are taking the field these days with the idea of winning every game and that's the way it's been working on their current 7-0 homestand.
''Everybody here is having great years and that's what it takes to win championships,'' outfielder Vince Coleman said. ''Now, we expect to win. And when you expect to win, you're going to win.''
And the Angels?
''I know what it's like to be on that side over there where you can't do anything right,'' Martinez said. ''Nothing seems to be going right. The pitching doesn't go right, you can't get any hitting and you're making errors.''
Buhner hit his 38th homer and club-record 12th of the month and Griffey had his 16th and ninth since returning to the lineup Aug. 15 after missing almost three months with a broken left wrist.
Buhner has homered in 10 of the last 19 games and Griffey in four of six. Buhner had two RBIs to reach 118 for the season, two more than the previous club record set by Alvin Davis in 1984.
Andy Benes (7-1) ran his winning streak to five games, giving up a home run to Garret Anderson in the fifth. Benes allowed eight hits in 7 1-3 innings.
The Mariners have scored 10 or more runs for Benes in four of his 11 starts in Seattle since he was acquired July 31 in a trade with San Diego.
''I think I'm unbeaten when we score 10 runs,'' Benes said.
With the Mariners leading 6-1 in the sixth, Martinez brought the crowd of 46,935 to its feet with a three-run double. Griffey had his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
The Mariners took a 3-0 lead in the third when they sent nine batters to the plate. With two outs, Shawn Boskie (7-7) hit Joey Cora with a pitch and Griffey doubled him home from first. Edgar Martinez, the league's leading hitter, had an RBI single and Buhner also singled in a run.
Boskie said he thought he threw a good pitch to Griffey. It was low and away.
''Everytime he puts the bat on the ball, it's a missile,'' Boskie said. ''That's why he is who he is.''
Seattle went ahead 5-0 in the fourth on Dan Wilson's double, Coleman's sacrifice, Cora's sacrifice fly and Griffey's homer off Rich Monteleone. Buhner homered off Mike James in the fifth after Anderson got his 16th homer in the top of the inning.
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