MIAMI (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki is rapidly pulling away from Wee Willie Keeler on the all-time hit list with the same approach made famous by the late Hall of Famer.
Again on Monday, Suzuki hit `em where they ain’t.
Pressed into regular duty by a teammate’s injury, the 42-year-old Suzuki had four hits, including a single in the Miami Marlins’ two-run eighth inning, and they rallied past the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6.
Suzuki is 10 for 13 in the past three games to raise his average to .417 and increase his career hit total to 2,960. He overtook Keeler for 32nd place on the all-time list Sunday, and is closing in on another Hall of Famer, Sam Crawford (2,964).
Suzuki once visited the New York grave of Keeler, who died in 1923, but doesn’t want to dwell these days on his place in the record book. He’s too busy playing regularly, with teammate Christian Yelich nursing a troublesome back.
“I have to concentrate on being ready,” the Japanese veteran said through a translator. “I don’t have time to really study the history of all the players. I’m just trying to prepare myself, so when my name is called I’m ready.”
How does he feel about his recent flurry of hits?
“I feel normal,” he said.
Actually, the hit parade isn’t normal, even for Suzuki. It has been a decade since he totaled 10 hits or more in a three-game span.
The rest of the Marlins’ outfield also contributed to their comeback win.
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton showed signs of emerging from a prolonged slump, putting the ball in play in all three at-bats and reaching on a single and walk. Marcell Ozuna had three hits, including his ninth homer.
The Marlins trailed 6-5 in the eighth, but their first two hitters singled off Erasmo Ramirez (6-2). Pinch-hitter Cole Gillespie’s sacrifice fly tied the game, and Suzuki singled to put runners at first and third with one out.
Martin Prado then hit a one-hopper that deflected off the glove of reliever Alex Colome. He had to settle for an out at first as the go-ahead run scored.
Suzuki led off the first with a single and scored. He singled again in the second, and hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth.
“It’s like we’re celebrating every single at-bat that he’s having,” Prado said. “We feel so blessed to see him doing what he’s doing.”
“We shouldn’t even talk about his age,” manager Don Mattingly said. “For anybody, the way he’s swinging the bat is kind of amazing. He’s fun to watch.”
David Phelps (3-2) pitched a perfect eighth. A.J. Ramos pitched around a one-out single in the ninth for his 14th save.
Tampa Bay’s Taylor Motter drove in three runs with a bases-loaded walk, a double and his second home run. Brandon Guyer scored three times and had three hits, including his fifth home run for the Rays, who began the week tied for the major league lead in homers.
Steven Souza Jr. also had three hits and drove in a run. Rays pinch hitter Logan Morrison made the score 5-all in the sixth with a two-out RBI single.
“Tough loss,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We had some exciting hits but fell a little short there at the end.”
The game was the 100th between Florida’s teams, with three more to come this week. The Rays lead 51-49.
Rays starter Matt Moore went five innings and allowed 10 hits and five runs, including three in the first. The left-hander is winless over his past six starts with an ERA of 6.89.
Miami’s Wei-Yin Chen allowed five runs, matching a season high, in 5 2/3 innings.
Marlins: Yelich missed his third start in a row because of back spasms but felt better and might rejoin the lineup in a couple of days. He was called on as a pinch-hitter in the eighth but replaced after the Rays changed pitchers. Mattingly said the move was a bluff, and he had no intention of letting Yelich bat.
Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (1-2, 3.81) is scheduled to start Tuesday’s day game against RHP Tom Koehler (2-4, 4.71).
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