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A’s dispatch Mariners, gain ground in West

Oakland starter A.J. Griffin limited the Mariners to four hits over 5-plus innings on Friday. (Associated Press)
Oakland starter A.J. Griffin limited the Mariners to four hits over 5-plus innings on Friday. (Associated Press)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer, Coco Crisp added a solo shot and the Oakland Athletics gained ground on the first-place Texas Rangers in the A.L. West with an 8-2 win against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

The A’s trail the two-time defending A.L. champions by three games with five to play. The Rangers lost 7-4 at home to the Los Angeles Angels. Texas finishes the season with three games in Oakland starting Monday.

Josh Donaldson had a two-run single in a four-run seventh and A.J. Griffin (7-1) received ample support as the A’s stayed two games ahead of the Angels in the race for the second wild card. Tampa Bay fell three back after losing to the Chicago White Sox.

Oakland (89-68) has a magic number of four to clinch the club’s first playoff berth since being swept by the Tigers in the 2006 AL championship series.

The A’s won six months to the day after these clubs kicked off the 2012 schedule in Tokyo — and Oakland’s opening-day starter, Brandon McCarthy, was back with the team just more than three weeks after undergoing brain surgery following a line drive off the bat of the Angels’ Erick Aybar that struck him on the right side of the head.

McCarthy plans to stick around through the season’s last homestand, and it’s primed to be quite a final five games.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin waited to post a lineup until after watching Crisp go through pregame activities considering the leadoff man had missed nine straight starts and 10 of 11 because of an eye infection.

Apparently, he saw the ball just fine when he sent a 3-2 pitch from starter Blake Beavan (10-11) over the right-field wall for his 11th home run. It was Crisp’s fourth leadoff shot this year and the eighth of his career.

Crisp made a perfect slide to score an insurance run in the fifth on a passed ball. Yoenis Cespedes drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh and made a pretty diving catch on a liner to left-center in the eighth to rob Jesus Montero of a hit.

Trayvon Robinson followed Crisp’s homer with a tying drive in the second, then Drew responded with his fifth homer since joining the A’s from Arizona on Aug. 20 and seventh overall.

Michael Saunders also homered for Seattle, which snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday in Anaheim but didn’t do enough in this one for Beavan.

Griffin, one of five rookies in the rotation, allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two. Griffin was winless in his previous two starts after winning his first six decisions.

Seattle center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was held out of the lineup a day after crashing into the wall to make a catch against the Angels. He banged his wrist, shoulder and head on the play, but said he was fine Friday.

“I don’t have anything, just a little stiff in my neck. It’s nothing major,” said Gutierrez, who hopes to play Saturday. “I hit it pretty good, the wall.”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he expects Gutierrez to play the final five games of the season.

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Ichi-who? Suzuki sits on M’s bench in fake mustache disguise

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The Seattle Mariners have seen a whole new side of Ichiro Suzuki. The former star player-turned-team executive showed up on the bench at Yankee Stadium in disguise, wearing a fake bushy mustache, shades and hoodie for the first inning Thursday. Because he’s not a player or coach, the 44-year-old Suzuki isn’t allowed in the dugout during games under Major League Baseball rules. But Associated Press photographer Bill Kostroun spotted Suzuki watching from the back row of the dugout.