Athletics 6, Mariners 4

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SEATTLE (AP)—Oakland’s starting pitchers challenged each other a lot more than the Seattle Mariners did.

Rich Harden gave the Athletics another top mound performance, taking a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning of Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Joe Blanton and Justin Duchscherer combined on a two-hitter Friday, and Barry Zito and three relievers strung together a one-hitter Saturday. In this one, Harden and four relievers combined on a five-hitter.

“In a way, all the starters are kind of competing against each other,” Harden said.

Seattle had been held scoreless for 27 2-3 innings—four outs shy of the team record—and trailed 6-0 before breaking through in the eighth.

“To me, they have the best pitching staff all around,” loser Joel Pineiro said. “The last three days have been amazing.”

Harden (1-0) struck out eight and walked one in seven-plus innings in front of 25 cheering relatives, including his grandmother and uncle. In his last four games against Seattle—all at Safeco Field, near his hometown of Victoria, British Columbia—he is 4-0 and has allowed one run in 21 innings.

“Feels like home to me here,” he said. “It’s pretty close.”

For the game’s first half, he buzzed through Seattle’s lineup with diving split-fingers and tempting offspeed pitches. His fastball reached 97 mph.

“That gun’s off. He was throwing a lot harder than that,” closer Huston Street said. “Those were probably 100.”

Seattle hit only five balls out of the infield in the first seven innings against Harden. Beltre’s line drive well over shortstop Bobby Crosby’s glove with two outs in the fifth inning was his first hit in eight career at-bats against him.

Richie Sexson doubled to left-center with two outs in the sixth, but Harden struck out Carl Everett.

After a tired Harden walked Beltre to start the eighth, he allowed a Jeremy Reed single on his 100th and final pitch.

“There was a little debate whether to send him out there that eighth inning,” manager Ken Macha said.

Duchscherer relieved. Pinch-hitter Roberto Petagine walked with one out to load the bases, Ichiro Suzuki extended his skid to 0-for-12 with a popout and Jose Lopez was hit by a 1-2 pitch, forcing in the first Mariners run in three days.

Joe Kennedy came in with the bases loaded and struck out Raul Ibanez, who slammed his batting helmet into the dirt in frustration.

In the innings between Mariners runs, Seattle was 7-for-87 (.080) at the plate. Following a 3-1 start, Seattle has lost three in a row.

“Are we as good a hitters as we were in the first four games? I don’t know,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “Are we as bad as the last two? No … we are somewhere in the middle.”

Seattle did score three runs in the ninth. Reed hit an RBI groundout off Kirk Saarloos and Kenji Johjima had an RBI single. Street allowed a single to Willie Bloomquist, then made a high, rushed throw to first for an error on Suzuki comebacker to score another run.

With runners at second and third, Street retired Lopez on a game-ending groundout for his second save.

Eric Chavez hit his third homer and drove in three runs for Oakland, and Mark Ellis had three hits and two RBIs.

Pineiro (1-1) allowed six runs—five earned—and 10 hits in seven innings, dropping to 8-4 against the A’s. His 2.95 ERA in 15 games against Oakland coming in had been his lowest against any team he faced at least 10 times.


Chavez’s home run was his 193rd, seventh on the A’s career list. His 28 home runs against Seattle are his most against any team. … A’s C Jason Kendall had two hits. He had one hit in his first five games entering Sunday. … Beltre was 3-for-23 this season before his single. … Street’s converted his 20th consecutive save chance, the fourth-best streak in Oakland history. … Oakland is 5-2 for the second time in three seasons. Seattle is 3-4 for the second straight year.

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