SEATTLE (AP) — Ken Griffey Jr. was a winner in his return to Seattle.
Franklin Gutierrez hit a leadoff double in the 10th inning and scoring the winning run on a throwing error by pitcher Scot Shields, giving the Mariners a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
Griffey went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first home game for the Mariners since Sept. 26, 1999. The 39-year-old slugger has the same corner locker inside “The House that Junior Built” that he had for half a season before Seattle granted his request and traded him to his hometown Cincinnati Reds nine years ago.
That house rocked when he was introduced before the game, again before he singled in his first at-bat and while the stadium’s public-address system blared the same “Hip Hop Hooray” song from Naughty By Nature that was Griffey’s walk-up song in his first go-round here.
Gutierrez, playing his first home game since Seattle acquired him from Cleveland in December, doubled off Shields (0-1) before Yuniesky Betancourt dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line. Shields fielded it cleanly but his hurried throw was well high and wide of first base.
The ball caromed off the railing in front of the box seats and down the right-field line. Gutierrez ran joyously home, holding the top of his batting helmet and bracing for the pounding he received near the plate from his new teammates.
It was a triumphant end to Seattle’s latest home opener since 1982. The Mariners (6-2) are off to their best start since 2001, their last playoff season.
Seemingly every one of the 45,958 fans in attendance was standing for Griffey in the first inning, and he tipped his batting helmet to both sides of the stadium. Longtime team president Chuck Armstrong, instrumental in getting Griffey to return, also stood in his box high above home plate, pointing and marveling at a raucous scene that seemed almost unfathomable while last year’s 101-loss season was mercifully ending.
This season’s home opener didn’t sell out until after Griffey signed in February.
Griffey, who was going to start in right field until his back stiffened, was the designated hitter. He struck out on three pitches against Darren Oliver with the score tied in the eighth while the huge crowd groaned.
The only fielding Griffey did was catching the ceremonial first pitch from friend Harold Reynolds, a former Mariners Gold Glove second baseman who helped show the teenage Griffey around the major leagues beginning in 1989.
Carlos Silva, a bust in 2008 to begin a $48 million, four-year contract, allowed just four hits and two runs in seven innings. His biggest mistake was a 3-1 fastball that Torii Hunter sent soaring just under the second deck beyond left field for a solo homer that tied the game at 2 in the sixth.
The Angels left the bases loaded in the fifth and eighth. Roy Corcoran (1-0) escaped a jam in the 10th.
Seattle grabbed 1-0 and 2-1 leads early against Shane Loux, who took Nick Adenhart’s turn in the rotation less than a week after the 22-year-old rookie was killed in an automobile accident that has left the Angels grieving. The Mariners held a moment of silence before the game for Adenhart, among others who have died recently in baseball.
The Angels hung Adenhart’s No. 34 jersey in their dugout. After the game, Shields carried it back to the clubhouse.
Loux walked Gutierrez with one out in fifth and he scored on a single by Endy Chavez to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.
Chavez has been a success as the fill-in leadoff batter, but he was in his final game in that role. All-Star Ichiro Suzuki is coming off the disabled list Wednesday after recovering from a bleeding ulcer.
The 29-year-old Loux allowed five hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings, his first start since Sept. 24, 2003, for Detroit at Kansas City.
Loux dressed four lockers to the right of Adenhart’s, which had his jersey hanging over a bouquet of cream-colored roses.
Notes: Two of Hunter’s three career hits off Silva are home runs, in 10 at-bats. … Chavez’s RBI single left him 13-for-32 this season (.406). … Oliver allowed one hit and struck out four in three innings. Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said the 38-year-old is likely to start Saturday in Minnesota as a stopgap while the Angels continue to adjust the rotation without Adenhart.