OAKLAND, Calif. – A road trip beset with internal strife and external struggles on the field ended in a grimly appropriate manner for the Seattle Mariners: a heartbreaking defeat.
Kurt Suzuki’s two-out single in the 10th scored Cliff Pennington from third and gave the A’s a 6-5 victory, giving the Mariners six losses in eight games on this tumultuous trip as they dropped 11 games under .500 and 7 1/2 games out of first place.
It was the sixth walkoff loss by the Mariners – three by the A’s in Oakland.
Pennington drew a one-out walk off loser Brandon League, then alertly took second on a fly out to medium center by Daric Barton. Pennington took third on a wild pitch, contemplating heading home as the ball bounded far away to the right of catcher Rob Johnson.
He held at third, but after an intentional walk to Ryan Sweeney, Suzuki jumped on a 1-1 pitch from League to ground a single up the middle, despite a diving shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo. It was Suzuki’s eighth career walkoff hit, and his second this year against Seattle.
It was a trip that began with the revelation of Ken Griffey Jr.’s napping in the clubhouse, and the resulting media furor. Griffey had gone hitless in all three road cities until punching a single to right field in the eighth inning.
That hit was the beginning of a rally that allowed the M’s to tie Oakland at 5-all. Casey Kotchman’s single moved Ryan Langerhans to third, where he scored on Mike Sweeney’s sacrifice fly to center off Oakland closer Andrew Bailey.
Griffey’s future is bound to be Topic A when the Mariners open a seven-game homestand today.
The M’s could conceivably have Milton Bradley back for the Blue Jays series. He is expected to meet with team officials today to discuss his progress since being put on the restricted list on the last homestand.
The Mariners broke a 3-3 tie with a run in the seventh off Oakland starter Ben Sheets. Josh Wilson led off with a single and stole second. When Johnson and Michael Saunders struck out, it looked like another opportunity was slipping away, but after an intentional walk to Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins delivered a single to left that brought in Wilson.
But that 4-3 lead was short-lived. With Kanekoa Texeira replacing Felix Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh, Ryan Sweeney led off with his fourth single of the game, and Texeira hit fellow Hawaiian Suzuki. Sean White replaced Texeira and promptly gave up a run-scoring single to Kevin Kouzmanoff, tying the game at 4-all.
Suzuki moved up to third on Kouzmanoff’s single. White struck out Jack Cust, but on a 0-2 pitch, designated hitter Eric Chavez delivered a fly to center plenty deep enough for Suzuki to score easily.
Left fielder Saunders bailed out the Mariners in the eighth after Barton’s leadoff walk. He made a shoestring grab of Ryan Sweeney’s sinking liner, then gunned a perfect throw to first to double off Barton.
Johnson hit his second homer of the season, off Sheets in the third.