OAKLAND, Calif. – One reason the Seattle Mariners entered play Saturday a season-high eight games over .500 was a starting rotation that had held its own following the losses of Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard.
The starters had played key roles in the Mariners reeling off wins in four straight and nine of 12 heading into their latest clash with the Oakland Athletics. But all of that came crashing to a halt in a 9-5 loss after left-hander Luke French, acquired in the trade that sent Washburn to Detroit, couldn’t hold a three-run lead.
French had trouble finding the strike zone and when he did, the A’s jumped all over pitches right down the heart of the plate. They scored four runs off French in the third inning, then knocked him from the game with another in the fourth.
A crowd of 16,495 fans at the Coliseum, dotted with hundreds of breast cancer survivors dressed in pink, likely thought the Mariners were about to win a third straight game in this series. Seattle scored three runs off A’s lefty Brett Anderson in the second inning, beginning with a Mike Sweeney home run and continuing with a two-run single by Rob Johnson.
Ichiro had one of his three hits on the night in that inning. He needs only one to reach 2,000 for his career and just six to notch a ninth straight 200-hit campaign.
But despite the strong start, the Mariners didn’t score again until a two-run homer in the ninth by Jose Lopez with the game long over. And even with the early lead, French could not continue the run of positive outings by his fellow starters.
Seattle starters had been a sizzling 4-0 with a 1.91 earned-run average this month and were 14-7 with a 4.07 ERA since the Washburn deal on July 31.
Contrast that with the starters’ 37-33 mark and 3.96 ERA before the trade, and the Mariners don’t appear to have lost all that much from their starting five. That is, until French’s performance here, where he yielded a leadoff walk to Daric Barton in the third inning, then a long home run to left on a pitch down the middle of the plate.
The inning disintegrated from there when Adam Kennedy doubled to left, then took third on a single to right by Rajai Davis. An ensuing sacrifice fly to center by Kurt Suzuki tied the score at 3.
But the play didn’t end there, as the speedy Davis took off for second and beat the throw by center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. Davis then stole third base and wound up scoring on a ground out to the right side by Scott Hairston.
French finally escaped the inning on a lineout by Nomar Garciaparra.
Athletics 9, Mariners 5
|Griffey Jr. ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||.218|
E—Jo.Lopez (16). LOB—Seattle 10, Oakland 5. 2B—Kennedy (22), M.Ellis 2 (21), R.Sweeney (23), D.Barton (5), Pennington (5). HR—M.Sweeney (6); Jo.Lopez (22); Pennington (3). RBIs—Jo.Lopez 2 (83), M.Sweeney (28), Ro.Johnson 2 (27), Kennedy (52), K.Suzuki (66), Hairston (25), M.Ellis 2 (49), D.Barton 2 (9), Pennington 2 (10). SB—R.Davis (31). CS—Cust (1). SF—K.Suzuki. RLSP—Seattle 4; Oakland 3. RMU—Hairston. GIDP—F.Gutierrez, R.Davis, K.Suzuki. DP—Seattle 2; Oakland 1.
|French L,4-5||3 2/3||7||5||5||3||0||5.05|
|Wuertz H,20||1 2/3||0||0||0||1||2||3.09|
|A.Bailey S,2-26||1 1/3||3||2||2||0||1||2.09|
IR-S—J.Vargas 2-0, Messenger 2-0, Wuertz 2-0, A.Bailey 1-0. WP—French. T—2:58. A—16,495
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