OAKLAND, Calif. — Manager Don Wakamatsu is finally seeing his Seattle Mariners do the little things at the plate: working the count, making adjustments, taking consistent swings.
It was a pretty sight for Erik Bedard.
Russell Branyan hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning, Bedard won for the first time in five starts, and Seattle beat the Oakland Athletics 6-1 on Wednesday to avoid a sweep.
“That was nice to put up a couple hits in a row,” Bedard said. “Hopefully it will continue and we’ll win more games.”
Bedard (3-2) and A’s rookie Trevor Cahill (2-5) both had strong outings, similar to their matchup here in April. Bedard hadn’t won since April 24 against the Angels in Anaheim.
Oakland’s Bobby Crosby snapped a career-long 72-game, 243 at-bat homerless streak with a drive in the second that tied it at 1, but Oakland could do little else against Bedard. Crosby’s last longball came on Aug. 12, 2008, against Tampa Bay.
Crosby’s homer came in his 99th at-bat of the year.
“My swing’s feeling good, that’s the thing,” he said. “After we went on the road, that Tampa Bay series I really struggled and didn’t feel that great. Came back here and worked on some things and started to feel a lot better. Today’s just a bonus to hit a home run.”
The A’s had their season-best three-game winning streak snapped and haven’t swept a three-game series since Sept. 19-21 at home over the Mariners.
Bedard hung tough until Seattle’s offense did its job. The left-hander retired 10 of the next 11 batters after Crosby’s home run before Jack Hannahan singled in the fifth. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out five in 6 2-3 innings.
Bedard didn’t feel any effects of a strained right hamstring that forced him to miss a turn earlier this month. His 108 pitches were his third most this season.
Branyan hit his team-leading 11th homer in the sixth after Ken Griffey Jr. reached on an error. Yuniesky Betancourt added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, Franklin Gutierrez doubled twice and drove in two runs and Rob Johnson also had two doubles.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Wakamatsu said. “Today I saw a lot of mechanical changes, tougher at-bats, working pitchers’ counts up.”
Cahill carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against Seattle on April 12 in his second big league start but lost 1-0 after Bedard pitched one of the best outings of his career — seven strikeouts, one walk and three hits over 8 1-3 innings. Cahill has lost three straight starts.
Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a first-inning double then stole his eighth base. Suzuki singled in the third and was caught stealing for the fourth time in 12 attempts.
Cahill struck out Griffey to end the first with Suzuki on third. Griffey went 0 for 10 during the series at the Coliseum, the site of his first major league hit on April 3, 1989 — a first-inning double off Dave Henderson.
Endy Chavez drove in Seattle’s first run in the top of the second on a groundout, then tripled to start the seventh.
“It’s just going to take a game like today, when you continue to score runs late in the game when you’re ahead,” Branyan said. “Today very well could be a turning point.”
Jack Cust was a late scratch for the A’s in right field because of back spasms.
Notes: Cahill has allowed eight home runs over his last seven starts. … Injured Mariners C Kenji Johjima, placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with a broken big toe, returned to Seattle and could begin some upper body strength work when the team returns from its six-game trip. … INF Nomar Garciaparra went back on Oakland’s DL five days after being activated, with the same right calf injury that already sidelined him for three weeks. … Wakamatsu held 1B/DH Mike Sweeney out of the lineup after he left Tuesday’s game with back spasms. He could be available Friday against the Angels at Los Angeles following Thursday’s off day.