Athletics 6, Mariners 2
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—The Oakland Athletics have been beating up on bad teams for weeks. They know their weekend series against the White Sox will provide a true barometer of just how well things are going.
Dan Haren won his career-best sixth straight decision, and Dan Johnson and Bobby Crosby homered to lead the A’s to their season-high seventh straight victory, 6-2 over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
Helped by three errors from Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre, Oakland completed its second straight sweep after taking three games from San Francisco last weekend. Seattle lost its fifth straight.
Chicago, which owns the best record in baseball, comes to town starting Friday for a three-game series. Then the A’s have three more at the White Sox just before the All-Star break.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” Crosby said, “to see where we’re really at.”
Eric Chavez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the fifth, Scott Hatteberg had an RBI single a day after missing a game with the flu, and Crosby extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games with a two-out double in the fifth. He hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
The A’s won for the 11th time in 12 games to finish June with a 19-8 record after going 7-20 in May. That matched the best turnaround in Oakland history from one month to the next. In 1980, the A’s went 7-21 in June and 19-10 in July.
“June has been terrific,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “We’ve got nine games left until the All-Star break and six of them against the team with the best record in baseball.”
Haren (7-7) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings as A’s starters improved to 11-0 in their last 12 outings. He didn’t have his best stuff and had to work for his outs, but got through it.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this where it seems everybody is outdoing each other,” Haren said. “It’s kind of like a friendly competition. Everybody is pulling for everybody. After the way things were going early in the year, you get to really appreciate the wins.”
Gil Meche (8-5), trying to become the sixth Seattle pitcher to win five games in June, had his three-game winning streak snapped.
“I couldn’t get a bunch of pitches together, so I just kept throwing,” he said. “I was off the plate with almost all my pitches. Those six walks won’t help you with the tempo of the game.”
He allowed three runs—one earned—four hits and a season-high six walks in 4 2-3 innings, throwing 111 pitches.
“I don’t know if he was trying to be too careful or too perfect,” manager Mike Hargrove said.
Raul Ibanez and Bret Boone hit back-to-back homers in the second for Seattle, the fifth time the Mariners connected for consecutive homers this year. Jeremy Reed followed with a single, then Haren retired 13 of his final 16 batters.
Oakland tied the game in the fifth when Beltre charged in on a grounder by Mark Ellis and made a wild throw that sailed past first baseman Richie Sexson to the Seattle bullpen, allowing Adam Melhuse to score. Chavez followed with the sacrifice fly.
Beltre had a first-inning fielding error and an eighth-inning throwing error. He also made three errors on May 21, 1999, for Los Angeles against St. Louis. The first two errors Thursday led to unearned runs.
“The funny thing is, I only had three (groundball) chances, and I made an error on each one of them,” Beltre said. “Probably if we had continued to play, I would have made another error. I hate it when I make errors. It was a nightmare day.”
Johnson hit his second homer on Julio Mateo’s first pitch of the sixth.
Oakland has allowed three or fewer runs in its last 13 wins. … The A’s lead the season series 9-3. … The A’s drew nine walks, three by Hatteberg and two by Johnson. … Hatteberg played DH and was still feeling less than 100 percent. He had Gatorade bottles stashed everywhere. “That is a miraculous recovery for that guy,” Macha said. … A’s C Jason Kendall got the day off and Melhuse started in his place—just Melhuse’s second start in the last 17 games. He singled in the fifth. Kendall got the day as a late birthday present. He turned 31 Sunday. … Mariners SS Willie Bloomquist missed the game with the flu. When told the A’s have been hit with the same bug recently, Hargrove said, “If they all have it, hopefully we’ll all get it so we can start scoring runs.” … Oakland’s rotation has put together a winning streak of 10 or more games for the eighth time. The record is 15 from Aug. 13-30, 2002, during a 20-game winning streak.