Mariners 6, Athletics 3

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SEATTLE (AP)—The Oakland Athletics are beginning to feel the pressure of the tightening AL West race.

Rookie Greg Dobbs’ three-run pinch-hit double started Seattle’s five-run seventh inning, leading the Mariners to a 6-3 victory over the A’s on Friday night. The loss cut the A’s lead in the division to one game over Anaheim.

“It’s tight, we know it’s gonna be tight, but we have a long road trip and a lot of things can happen,” Oakland’s Scott Hatteberg said. “So we’ve got to try to put this one behind us.”

Oakland has lost three out of four and eight out of 12. The A’s have dropped five out of seven in Seattle this season.

Ichiro Suzuki broke the major league record with his 199th single of the season in the seventh. He bettered the mark of 198 set by Lloyd Waner of Pittsburgh in 1927.

Suzuki said he wasn’t aware of the record until he heard the Safeco Field crowd of 30,610 cheer.

“I didn’t really understand why the fans were on their feet cheering for me,” he said through a translator. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Suzuki went 2-for-4, giving him 235 hits this season—22 shy of the season record set by George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns in 1920. The Mariners have 15 games left.

Edgar Martinez got his 1,000th career RBI as a designated hitter, a record for RBIs at the position. Martinez, 41, is retiring at the end of the season.

Ron Villone (6-5) threw two scoreless innings for the win, and J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

Oakland starter Barry Zito left with a 3-1 lead after six innings, but the A’s bullpen, betrayed by two errors by their league-leading defense, couldn’t hold the Mariners.

“We’ve got to get better work out of the bullpen,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Chad Bradford (5-6) allowed the Mariners to load the bases when he committed a fielding error on Jolbert Cabrera’s grounder and pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed, batting for Miguel Olivo, and Jose Lopez singled.

Batting for Willie Bloomquist, Dobbs doubled to center off Ricardo Rincon to drive in three runs and put Seattle ahead 4-3. The hit came on a 3-2 count in his seventh major league game and his 20th major league at-bat.

“I’m thinking, `Ball, get in the gap. Don’t run it down whatever you do,”’ Dobbs said.

Dobbs, called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Sept. 6, hit a pinch homer in his major league debut Sept. 8.

Randy Winn singled in a run off Rincon and Martinez added a sacrifice fly off Justin Duchscherer to complete the Mariners’ scoring in the seventh.

Two of the five Seattle runs were unearned as the A’s made two errors. Third baseman Eric Chavez made a throwing error on Winn’s single in the inning, allowing Suzuki to go to third. Suzuki scored on Martinez’s sacrifice fly.

Macha said Bradford’s error was the key to the A’s downfall in the seventh.

“I wouldn’t classify him as one of our best fielders,” Macha said of Bradford.

Bradford agreed.

“I’ve got to make that play,” he said. “It changed the whole inning.”

Hatteberg was disgusted that the A’s let one get away that they should have won. They left the bases loaded in the third and stranded six runners in the first three innings.

“We had opportunities to get guys in,” Hatteberg said. “We’ve got to do it. You’ve just got to come through in those situations. Zito threw incredibly well. He kept us in it. It’s a tough one to lose.”

Zito took the loss hard.

“Anaheim won today,” he said. “So this was a tough loss. It’s frustrating what happened in the game today.”

Zito also said wouldn’t second-guess Macha’s decision to pull him after six.

“I’ve got to stick with Mach,” he said. “He’s the guy in charge here so I’m not going to say anything or do anything to contradict his choice.”

Zito gave up one run and four singles in six innings.

Oakland scored two runs off Gil Meche in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead on Nick Swisher’s sacrifice fly and Bobby Crosby’s RBI double.

The A’s took a 1-0 lead in the first on Mark McLemore’s second homer of the season.

In the fourth, the Mariners tied it on singles by Martinez and Bret Boone to put runners at the corners followed by Raul Ibanez’s sacrifice fly.

“It was nice,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said after his team’s 56th win.

Notes

McLemore, starting his 43rd game for Oakland at 2B, also doubled for his 1,600th career hit. … Melvin came out and argued with first-base umpire Sam Holbrook after the fleet Suzuki was thrown out on a close play in the fifth. … Crosby made a sensational catch of Ibanez’s broken-bat blooper in shallow left in the sixth. He trapped the ball with his bare hand after it went off his glove and his chest.

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