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O'Malley comes through in clutch vs. Neshek

SEATTLE -- Shawn O'Malley hadn't logged a hit in more than two weeks when he stepped to the plate to face Pat Neshek in the eighth inning of Seattle's 6-4 win over Houston on Tuesday night.

Over the Mariners' last nine games, the scrappy September callup saw his batting average drop from .417 to .286, and his on-base percentage slip from .543 to .435.

But even without recent success, he was right for the moment in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game, in which he knocked a two-run single to left-center to score the go-ahead runs for a Mariners club that hadn't won since last Tuesday.

"He got a pitch that he could get out there in the outfield," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "Did a real nice job."

O'Malley, a switch-hitter, was the first left-handed hitter to face Neshek, who traditionally matches up well with right-handed hitters. Singles by Seth Smith and Mark Trumbo followed by a walk to Franklin Gutierrez loaded the bases for O'Malley, and the 27-year-old outfielder waited for his pitch.

"I knew he had some good sink to his fastball, so I was just waiting to see if I could get a ball up in the zone that I could put back up the middle," O'Malley said of Neshek.

After taking three straight sinkers and fouling off a slider, O'Malley got an elevated 84-mph slider and knocked it into left-center, scoring both Smith and Trumbo to give O'Malley his first multi-RBI game since his Mariners debut Sept. 2.

That game in Houston on Sept. 2 was significant not only because it was O'Malley's first start in a Mariners uniform or because before Tuesday it was Seattle's last win against the Astros, but also because it was O'Malley's best game, one in which he went 3-for-5 and knocked an RBI single in an eighth-inning at-bat against Neshek.

Sound familiar?

"I think I got a jam shot to right [in Houston]," O'Malley said. "I was familiar with some of the stuff he had, and fortunately it turned out good."

So good, in fact, that it earned a standing ovation from the Safeco Field crowd as O'Malley made his way to the dugout after the final out of the inning.

"I didn't notice that. I think I was just in the zone, locked in," O'Malley said. "I wasn't really paying attention, but thanks, that's great. I'm glad they loved it. I mean, I sure did, so yeah, it was really, really nice."

Fans of the hit might also include O'Malley's former team, the Angels, whose win combined with Houston's loss put them a half-game ahead of the Astros for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"From what I heard, I helped them out," O'Malley said with a smile. "We want to win games until the very end, so that's what we're going to try to do."

Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for
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