SEATTLE – It has taken a while, but patience is paying off for the Seattle Mariners.
The team that strived all last season for better at-bats to drive up opposing pitch counts and create scoring opportunities is doing it now. Partly because of it, the Mariners have a two-game winning streak after a 4-2 win over the Oakland A’s Wednesday night at Safeco Field when the power of the walk – followed by the timely hit and some strong starting pitching – produced their fourth victory in 10 games this season.
Milton Bradley followed his three-run homer Tuesday night with a two-run single Wednesday to tie the score 2-2 in the fifth inning, and the Mariners pulled ahead in the sixth on RBI singles by Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez.
The M’s got a second straight no-walk performance from their starting pitcher, this time by Jason Vargas. He held the A’s to five hits and only Jake Fox’s two-run homer in the second inning, and retired 15 of the final 17 hitters he faced.
Both of the Mariners’ rallies were set up by walks against A’s starter Gio Gonzalez, including two by the master of that craft, No. 2 hitter Chone Figgins.
“There was a lot of damage done in the early part of this game as far as getting the pitch count up,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “Gio had good stuff, but I still thought we had some pretty good at-bats. Any time you can get a walk or a six- or seven-pitch at-bat, it taxes the opposing starter. It was tremendous.”
With Vargas having settled in after Fox’s homer, the Mariners worked on Gonzalez and, after some baserunning misadventures early in the game, scored in the fifth inning.
Bradley, who’d rounded third base too far and was tagged for the final out of the second, shattered his bat but looped a single into left field with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth.
That scored Ichiro Suzuki and Figgins, who had pulled off something seldom seen lately. They reached base in the same inning for the first time since Saturday at Texas. This time, Ichiro dribbled an infield single in front of the plate – breaking a 0-for-13 stretch – and Figgins walked against Gonzalez.
Gutierrez followed with a walk and, after Jose Lopez popped out, Bradley delivered his single to tie the score 2-2.
Adam Moore pushed an opposite-single to right to lead off the bottom of the sixth and, after Jack Wilson’s sacrifice bunt and a strikeout by Ichiro, Figgins kept the inning going by drawing a walk against A’s reliever Chad Gaudin. Gutierrez followed with an RBI single to left and Lopez an opposite-field single to right that made the score 4-2.
M’s, Lee must wait
Cliff Lee didn’t throw any high hard ones Wednesday, but he did his best to explain during a hearing the pitch at spring training that led to his five-game suspension by Major League Baseball.
Lee and others with the Mariners took part in a conference call that also included an arbitrator who’ll consider the arguments of both sides and decide how much time he’ll serve. The Mariners expect a decision in a few days.
Wakamatsu said catcher Rob Johnson’s surgically repaired hips were fine after catching back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday. … Shortstop Jack Wilson, who battled hamstring problems throughout last season, is on a postgame workout regimen that, so far, has kept him strong, Wakamatsu said.
Mariners 4, Athletics 2
LOB—Oakland 3, Seattle 12. 2B—Jo.Lopez (1). HR—Fox (1), off J.Vargas. RBIs—Fox 2 (2), F.Gutierrez (3), Jo.Lopez (1), Bradley 2 (7). CS—Barton (1). S—J.Wilson. RLISP—Oakland 1 (Gross); Seattle 5 (Moore, Tuiasosopo 2, Bradley, Jo.Lopez). DP—Seattle 1 (Moore, Moore, Figgins).
|Gaudin L,0-1||1 1/3||3||2||2||2||3||4.91|
IR-S—Gaudin 2-0. T—2:45. A—15,978 (47,878).
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