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Saturday, May 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wolcott Tops A’S Again Mariners Brake Two-Game Skid; Amaral, Buhner Back Pitcher

By Larry Larue Tacoma News Tribune

Forget the standings for a moment. Cast off the chains of reason.

Allowing that for every problem there is a solution - no matter how absurd - there was a certain predictable symmetry here Monday.

The Oakland Athletics own the Seattle Mariners. But Bob Wolcott owns the Athletics. And though none of that makes any real sense, it continued to be true when the Mariners defeated Oakland 6-2, snapping a two-game losing streak that whittled away their lead in the American League West.

“What we got tonight was what we needed, good pitching,” manager Lou Piniella said.

That they needed a victory was inarguable. That they’d get it against Oakland - a team that had a 41-21 record in the last 62 meetings between these clubs - was debatable.

And that Wolcott, a man with a career earned run average of 5.50 and a lifetme win-loss record in the big leagues of 14-16, should fill the role of stopper seemed improbable.

Yet when Piniella sent Wolcott to the minor leagues before the All-Star break, he promised to bring him back in time to face the Athletics. Why? Because the right-hander has always pitched well against the A’s. The best game of his career came her a year ago, an 80-pitch complete-game victory.

“Some parks are miserable to pitch in,” Wolcott said. “Here I feel comfortable on the mound, like I’m right on top of the plate. I’ve only pitched twice here, but so far, so good.”

After four career starts against the A’s, Wolcott is 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA.

On Monday, he threw a blanket over the A’s lineup with the exception of Matt Stairs, who hit two solo home runs. For the Athletics, who have had a lead just once in four games since the All-Star break, that wasn’t nearly enough.

“I’m still working on how to pitch Stairs,” Wolcott said.

It was a conversation with Piniella that may have changed the way Wolcott approached this game. Actually, more a lecture than a conversation.

“I told him he’d been getting too apprehensive out there with a lead,” Piniella said. “I told him, after the fifth inning, throw every pitch like you’ve got a 2-1 lead. He’s improved this season, he’s gotten tougher out there.

“Tonight he pitched a fine game. We got him a lead and he made it hold up.”

Seattle broke on top fast, getting a leadoff home run from Rich Amaral - in just his 16th at-bat since June 7 - against left-hander Steve Wojciechowski. After Edgar Martinez singled with two outs, Jay Buhner hit his 24th home run, a bolt deep into the seats beyond left field.

Wolcott led, 3-0. And though the A’s - behind those two Stairs homers - got within a run at 3-2, the Mariners kept pecking away.

Mike Blowers singled home one run in the sixth inning, Jose Cruz Jr. singled home another, then added an eighth-inning RBI double.

Wolcott, with two innings of scoreless relief from Scott Sanders, made it hold.

“The trip to Tacoma was good because it let me keep working on some things rather than sit around before and during the All-Star break,” Wolcott said. “It’s easier to work on things in the minors, and I always seem to come back stronger after being there.”

And while all that added up to a win that preserved Seattle’s 2-1/2 game lead over Anaheim, there was another bit of news that may be just as significant - Ken Griffey Jr. doubled and singled in his last two at-bats.

News? Well, after his first three at-bats Monday Griffey was mired in an 0-for-17 skid, and in his next at-bat fell behind 0-2 after swinging at a pitch in the dirt.

“I’ve been doing too much of that,” Griffey said. “That was enough.”

Griffey stepped out of the batters box, stepped back in with more determination - and doubled. Next at-bat, he singled.

Mariners 6, Athletics 2

Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg. Amaral 2b 4 1 2 1 0 0 .261 b-Sorrento ph-1b 1 0 0 0 0 1 .280 ARodriguez ss 5 0 0 0 0 0 .310 Griffey Jr cf 5 0 2 0 0 1 .299 EMartinez dh 3 2 2 0 2 1 .335 Buhner rf 5 2 2 2 0 2 .249 DaWilson c 4 0 2 0 0 0 .288 Blowers 1b 4 0 2 1 0 1 .253 Gates 2b 0 0 0 0 0 0 .244 RDavis 3b 4 1 0 0 0 1 .306 Cruz Jr lf 4 0 2 2 0 1 .271 Totals 39 6 14 6 2 8 Oakland AB R H BI BB SO Avg. JMcDonald cf 4 0 1 0 0 1 .210 c-Bellhorn ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .306 Brosius 3b-ss 4 0 0 0 0 0 .207 Stairs rf 3 2 3 2 1 0 .359 McGwire 1b 4 0 1 0 0 0 .280 Canseco dh 4 0 0 0 0 3 .241 Giambi lf 4 0 1 0 0 1 .295 Spiezio 2b 4 0 2 0 0 1 .235 GoWilliams c 4 0 1 0 0 0 .264 Batista ss 2 0 1 0 0 1 .198 a-Magadan ph3b 2 0 1 0 0 0 .264 Totals 36 2 11 2 1 8 Seattle 300 002 010 - 6 Oakland 100 100 000 - 2 a-lined out for Batista in the 7th. b-struck out for Amaral in the 8th. c-struck out for McDonald in the 9th.

E-McGwire (7). LOB-Seattle 9, Oakland 8. 2B-Griffey Jr (17), DaWilson (23), Cruz Jr (10), McGwire (21), Giambi (23). HR-Stairs 2 (14) off Wolcott 2; Buhner (24) off Wojciechowski; Amaral (1) off Wojciechowski. RBIs-Amaral (13), Buhner 2 (69), Blowers (13), Cruz Jr 2 (27), Stairs 2 (37). CS-Amaral (5), Griffey Jr (3). S-DaWilson. GIDP- McGwire.

Runners left in scoring position-Seattle 6 (Amaral, ARodriguez, DaWilson 2, RDavis, Cruz Jr); Oakland 6 (Bellhorn, Brosius, Canseco 2, Spiezio, Magadan).

Runners moved up-Buhner.

DP-Seattle 1 (ARodriguez, Amaral and Blowers).

Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Wolcott W,5-4 7 8 2 2 0 4 96 5.26 SSanders 2 3 0 0 1 4 44 6.37 Oakland IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Wojcchwski L,0-1 5-1/3 9 5 5 1 4 83 8.44 ASmall 2 3 1 0 1 2 36 4.76 Groom 2/3 1 0 0 0 1 10 4.04 Wengert 1 1 0 0 0 1 12 6.24 Groom pitched to 1 batter in the 9th.

Inherited runners-scored-ASmall 2-1, Groom 1-0, Wengert 1-0.

IBB-off ASmall (EMartinez) 1. WP-ASmall.

T-2:45. A-16,357 (45,177).

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