Athletics 14, Mariners 5
When he didn’t, the A’s walked their way to another win.
Erubiel Durazo homered for the second straight day to give him 14 on the year, hitting a solo shot in the seventh. Damian Miller had three hits and an RBI, Eric Chavez had three RBIs and Mark Kotsay drove in two runs for the A’s, who took advantage of 14 walks by Seattle pitchers.
It was the second most walks ever by Seattle, whose club record for walks was 15 on July 17, 1991, at Milwaukee. The A’s haven’t walked so many times since drawing a club-record 15 on Sept. 19, 2000, at Baltimore.
“Geez, I knew it was a lot, but I didn’t know it was that many,” Oakland’s Bobby Kielty said of the walks. “That’s not something we were trying to do. It just happened.”
The A’s have won three straight and are 2 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the AL West. The Rangers won 6-1 at Anaheim.
Zito’s troubles this season are baffling, considering he’s just two seasons removed from winning the AL Cy Young award. The A’s lost two games in Seattle last week, including 6-5 in 10 innings Wednesday when Zito got a no-decision after allowing five runs and nine hits in five innings.
Zito (6-7) has just two wins since June 8, when he beat the Cincinnati Reds, but he believes he’s beginning to pitch well. He has a good record against Seattle, and improved to 6-0 in six career starts against the Mariners in Oakland. The lefty went six innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, struck out three and walked three.
“I felt pretty good today,” Zito said. “I thought I was going to take a loss and the team just went off. The team took some free passes that were huge.”
Seattle pitching coach Bryan Price was ejected in the fourth by plate umpire Charlie Reliford for arguing balls and strikes. Price charged onto the field to protest and manager Bob Melvin rushed to get between Price and Reliford.
Blackley walked four in the inning, including both Kotsay and Bobby Crosby with the bases loaded to score runs. Chavez added a two-run single in the inning to pull the A’s within 5-4.
Blackley argued on the walk to Kotsay, coming toward home plate to inquire about the strike zone.
“It wasn’t a crisis situation. We were ahead 5-1,” Price said. “I think I made the situation worse by yelling at them from the dugout. You can’t expect a 21-year-old rookie to keep his composure when all that is going on.”
Oakland tied the game at 5 on Byrnes’ RBI single in the fifth, which followed two more walks by Blackley and one from reliever George Sherill.
Kotsay then hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to center. The A’s added five more runs in the sixth on Byrnes’ double to the wall in left-center, a run-scoring single by Miller and Chavez’s sacrifice fly. One of the runs was unearned after Leone’s fielding error at third.
It was an ugly start to a season-long 14-game road trip for Seattle, which is even with Oakland at 5-5 in the season series.
Blackley (1-3) hasn’t won in four starts since making his major league debut July 1 and beating Texas. He allowed six earned runs on three hits in four innings, struck out two and walked nine.
“I felt good out there. I threw good pitches. I kept the ball down in the zone. I stayed away from the middle of the plate—all the things they’ve been telling me to do,” Blackley said. “I just messed up. I began not hitting my spots and I let some emotion get in the way.
Suzuki, who finished with three hits, owns the second-longest active hitting streak in the majors behind Atlanta’s J.D. Drew’s 22-game run. … Injured A’s All-Star Tim Hudson threw 48 pitches to three hitters in a simulated game. Hudson used all of his pitches and came out of the session pain-free, though his command was a little off. He will throw a side Wednesday or Thursday, then make a rehab start at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. He’ll throw 70 pitches in that outing, then probably be activated. … Seattle has hit 22 homers in July, the club’s most of any month this year.