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Ichiro reaches 3,000 total hits

ARLINGTON, Texas - Ichiro Suzuki reached 3,000 combined hits in the major leagues and the Japanese League with a first-inning single last night against the Texas Rangers.

The Seattle Mariners leadoff man hit a soft liner to left-center on the game's first pitch from Luis Mendoza. Standing on first base, Suzuki received an ovation from the Texas crowd and tipped his helmet when his achievement was posted on the scoreboard.

The 34-year-old Suzuki has 1,722 hits in 1,224 games during his eight seasons with the Mariners.

He had 1,278 hits over 951 games in nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave of Japan's Pacific League.

Only one player in Japanese League history reached 3,000 hits: Isao Harimoto with 3,085. A total of 27 players have compiled at least 3,000 hits in major league history.

"That's a tremendous achievement for the short time he's been over here," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said before the game. "I think that's the most (hits) anyone's ever had in that period of time."

Asked to list the factors behind Ichiro's achievement, Riggleman said, "Number one, it's his talent. You've got to have longevity, can't have too many injuries, can't miss a lot of playing time."

Riggleman said the feat should not be downgraded because Ichiro had more than 1,200 hits in Japan.

"Not at all," Riggleman said. "The hits he accumulated over here exceeded what he did over there. He's understanding the magnitude of it. It's really weighed on him. He realizes how few people have done it."

/AP-CS-07-29-08 2040EDT

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