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Sports

A’s flex muscles, power past Mariners

From wire reports

SEATTLE – Bobby Kielty and Mark Kotsay homered in a four-run eighth inning, sending the Oakland Athletics to a 6-2 victory Monday night over the Seattle Mariners.

Dan Haren pitched eight strong innings and Nick Swisher homered and drove in two runs for the suddenly resurgent A’s, who won for the seventh time in 10 games.

Kielty, a switch-hitter who owns a .387 average against left-handers, opened the eighth by hitting an 0-1 pitch from lefty Ron Villone (2-3) over the center-field wall for his first home run since May 30.

All 11 of Kielty’s homers in two years with Oakland have either tied the game or put the A’s ahead. Later in the inning, Kotsay hit a three-run shot off Jeff Nelson, breaking an 0-for-17 slump.

Haren (5-7), acquired from St. Louis last offseason in the Mark Mulder deal, gave up six hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out six in winning his fourth straight decision.

Mariners starter Aaron Sele, who was 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA in his previous six starts, had another decent outing. He went six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. Over the past 11 games, Mariners starters are 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA.

Seattle’s staff allowed just four homers in the first 16 games of June. But the A’s hit three, including a solo shot by Swisher in the fifth.

Two-out doubles by Dan Johnson and Swisher put the A’s ahead 1-0 in the second. But Seattle came right back in the bottom half. With one out, Jeremy Reed hooked an 0-1 pitch from Haren into the right-field corner. Jose Lopez, breaking for second on the pitch, came all the way around to score without a throw. Then Mike Morse was hit by a pitch, pushing Reed to second.

With two outs, Ichiro Suzuki hit a hard single through the left side and Reed was waved around. Jason Kendall tried to block the plate with his left foot, but Reed slid safely into his legs and ahead of Kendall’s sweeping tag. Kendall and A’s manager Ken Macha protested, but umpire Brian O’Nora quickly dismissed them.

The A’s tied it at 2 in the fifth on Swisher’s one-out shot into the right-field seats on the first pitch from Sele. It was Swisher’s second home run in four games, and it was the first time in three starts that Sele had allowed more than one run.

Morse, steady in 16 starts at shortstop since arriving from the minors on May 31, saved a potential run in the sixth with a bold decision. Eric Chavez opened the inning with a double. Scott Hatteberg then hit a hard grounder behind second. Morse snagged it, turned quickly and threw ahead of the runner to third for the out. Instead of a runner on third and one out, the A’s were denied a rally.

In the sixth, Swisher prevented the Mariners from taking the lead with a fine defensive play on Reed’s high fly to the warning track in right. Swisher, with his back to the wall, leaped over the yellow line to bring back a potential home run.

The A’s threatened in the seventh, but Villone retired pinch-hitter Keith Ginter with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Boone boondoggle

Jose Lopez has played just for games for the Mariners, but his stellar play already has begged the question of manager Mike Hargrove: If Lopez continues to hit and field well, should he keep the second base job when Bret Boone shows he’s ready to start again?

That’s an easy one, Hargrove said. When Boone becomes comfortable with the hitting mechanics he’s working on, he’ll return to the lineup.

“What Bret Boone has meant to this organization, he deserves an extended chance,” Hargrove said. “He’s a player who has a chance to be in the Hall of Fame, and in my opinion he’s not done yet by any stretch of the imagination.”

Boone has been held out of the starting lineup the past three games.

Boone’s instruction from hitting coach Don Baylor has gotten so fine that he was hitting off a tee Monday afternoon before he faced a live pitcher.

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