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Originally published Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Felix Hernandez throws eight strong innings, Italian-born Alex Liddi makes M's history

Alex Liddi was well aware he wasn't experiencing his first day as a major-leaguer alone. Liddi could feel others with him as he entered...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Alex Liddi was well aware he wasn't experiencing his first day as a major-leaguer alone.

Liddi could feel others with him as he entered the visitors' clubhouse at Angel Stadium. As he marveled at the quality of everything at the ballpark around him, right down to the grounds crew.

The first Italian-born and bred big-leaguer knows the hopes and dreams of others like him were coming along for the ride.

"I think I represent all of my friends, all of the people in Italy who didn't have this chance that I have," third baseman Liddi said before his team's 2-1 win Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Angels. "So, it's going to be for me, for my family and for all of the people in Italy who love this game. Even if it's not a lot, there are people in Italy who love this game and it's going to be something special."

Liddi, 23, didn't play during a game in which Felix Hernandez held the Angels to an unearned run on four hits over eight innings. The Angels committed four errors, leading to three Seattle runs. Trayvon Robinson hit a sacrifice fly in the second, then Michael Saunders beat out a slow-developing double-play attempt in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

Dustin Ackley had a triple and single, extending his hitting streak to 10 games as Seattle snapped a five-game losing streak. Alberto Callaspo got the home side on the board in the sixth with a two-out single after a Hernandez throwing error.

But it wasn't enough as Brandon League finished the ninth to get Hernandez his 14th win despite Seattle leaving 14 on base.

The Mariners plan to use Liddi sparingly, promoting him merely to reward his stellar Class AAA campaign of 30 home runs and becoming the second player in Tacoma history to drive in and score more than 100 runs.

He'd gotten off to a slow start, but rallied after Tacoma hitting coach Alonzo Powell suggested changing his mental approach.

The two biggest influences in Liddi becoming a ballplayer in his hometown of San Remo were with him in Tacoma when he got the news. His father, Augustine, had played baseball at Beverly Hills High School before moving back to Italy. He and Liddi's mother, Flavia, would drive Alex and his older brother, Thomas, to games hours away because there weren't enough local players.

Liddi's parents couldn't find a flight to Anaheim in time, but will attend games at Safeco Field this weekend.

Liddi began receiving calls from Italian media a few days ago.

"One of the Italian media members came to Tacoma to meet me," Liddi said. "All of my family called me last night. It was a long night. A lot of people were calling me. I was happy that a lot of people care."

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com

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