SEATTLE – The Mariners definitely didn’t expect to have back-to-back rocky outings from their two hottest pitchers.
And George Kottaras, designated for assignment earlier this year by Milwaukee, was an unlikely catalyst in both games for Oakland.
Put it together, and it spelled another lopsided loss for the Mariners, who fell 6-1 to the A’s at Safeco Field on Saturday.
The Mariners fell to 3-5 on their current homestand, which ends today. Previously, the Mariners had won eight in a row at Safeco Field.
After ace Felix Hernandez was shelled for 11 hits and six runs on Friday, Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t make it out of the fourth inning on Saturday.
Iwakuma, who had been 5-1 with a 1.57 earned-run average in his last seven starts, gave up six hits and five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings.
It was backup catcher Kottaras who had the big blow on Friday, a three-run homer off Hernandez in the fourth inning. Oakland manager Bob Melvin gave him another start on Saturday, and Kottaras responded with another big blow – a two-run homer in the fourth off Iwakuma.
Kottaras, who joined the A’s on July 29 in a trade with the Brewers for right-handed pitcher Fautino de los Santos, has four homers and 13 runs batted in over his last five games.
The Mariners could summon no such power against Oakland starter Brett Anderson, making his fourth start of the season after returning from a long layoff caused by Tommy John surgery.
Anderson looked even stronger than he was before the injury, which is saying something considering the lefty was a rising star. Anderson gave up one run – unearned – in six innings – and his record rose to 4-0 while his ERA fell to 0.69. He could be a vital cog down the stretch for the A’s, who lead the American League wild-card race. They are 17-5 in their last 22 games.
One of the few bright spots for the Mariners were relievers Carter Capps and Shawn Kelley, who combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Stephen Pryor gave up a run in the ninth to end the bullpen’s streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings.
But the damage was done in the fourth, when Yoenis Cespedes led off with a double, stole third and scored on a one-out single by Stephen Drew. Josh Donaldson grounded into a force before Kottaras sent a 1-1 pitch by Iwakuma over the wall in right. Coco Crisp added an RBI double later in the inning.
The lone Mariner run scored in the second via an error by shortstop Drew.
After Michael Saunders’ reached on a one-out double to center, Drew booted a grounder by Miguel Olivo. Saunders scored on a force out by Trayvon Robinson.
The Mariners stranded nine runners in the game.
M’s manager Eric Wedge said rookie RHP Erasmo Ramirez, a September callup, will start Tuesday at Toronto. Hector Noesi also will be worked into the rotation. “We just want to take a look at them again,” Wedge said. “It’s a chance to watch them a little longer.” … Mariners LH reliever Oliver Perez has not allowed a run in his last 18 appearances (13.1 innings), or since July 8. That’s tied for the seventh-longest streak in club history.