Rodriguez ties saves record in win over Mariners

Rodriguez ties saves record in win over Mariners
Home plate umpire Eric Cooper, center, signals safe after Los Angeles Angels' Brandon Wood, left, slides past the tag of Seattle Mariners' Kenji Johjima, of Japan, in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Francisco Rodriguez got the final three outs for his 57th save to tie Bobby Thigpen's major league record, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 7-4 on Thursday night.

Thigpen set the record in 1990 with the Chicago White Sox.

The Angels clinched the AL West title on Wednesday.

Rodriguez replaced Scot Shields with runners on first and second and no outs. He got Ichiro Suzuki to ground into a double play, gave up an RBI single to Jeremy Reed and a single to Adrian Beltre before finally ending it on Raul Ibanez's broken-bat grounder to first.

Rodriguez has blown six saves, one of those in his seven chances against the Mariners.

The save was the 203rd of the 26-year-old's career. He made his debut in September 2002 and became a sensation with his postseason performance.

The right-hander from Venezuela went 5-1 that October to help the Angels win their only World Series title, in the process becoming the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game.

Rodriguez may be pitching his final season for the Angels. He has said he wants to test the free agent market after this season, although both he and the Angels haven't ruled out a chance he will return.

Rodriguez ran toward first on Ibanez's grounder, but first baseman Kendry Morales tagged the bag. Rodriguez lifted both arms, jumped and did a little spin in joy.

Jered Weaver had blanked Seattle on three hits over his six innings, and Garret Anderson drove in three runs before Rodriguez came on to a standing ovation after the Mariners put the game into a save situation.

Weaver (11-10) had missed more than a week after cutting two fingers in a dugout accident on Sept. 2. He struck out three and walked three.

The Angels were the first team this season to clinch a division title, winning the West for the fourth time in five years. They are still playing for home-field advantage through the AL playoffs, and improved their major league-best record to 89-57.

After taking a 2-0 lead against Brandon Morrow, the Angels jumped on reliever Sean Green for four runs and four hits during a five-run sixth. Jeff Mathis and Anderson both singled in two runs, and Vladimir Guerrero added an RBI single. Mathis' hit snapped an 0-for-25 drought.

Green faced five batters and got only one out before Justin Thomas replaced him.

Morrow (2-3) gave up two runs and five hits, walked four and struck out four over five innings in his second major league start. The 24-year-old right-hander, moved out of the bullpen and into the rotation, had taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 3-1 victory over the New York Yankees last Friday.

The Mariners finally scored in the eighth, putting up three runs against Justin Speier. Suzuki led off with his sixth homer, Jose Lopez doubled in a run and Yuniesky Betancourt singled in another.

Anderson provided Los Angeles' first run with an RBI single in the third, and Brandon Wood made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the fourth.

The game was delayed for several minutes when home plate umpire Eric Cooper was hit in the chest by a foul tip off Guerrero's bat. Cooper went down and remained there momentarily, was checked out by Angels trainer Ned Bergert and, when Cooper lined up again behind the plate, received a rare - for an ump - ovation from the crowd.

While the Angels have the major's best mark, the Mariners, considered prime contenders in the AL West heading into the season, fell to 57-88.