Athletics 12, Mariners 6
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—The more Adam Melhuse plays, the more comfortable he feels at the plate.
“It’s a situation where you wonder if you had the at bats what you would do,” Melhuse said after hitting a home run for the third time in five games. “When you know you’re getting regular at bats you relax easier and don’t put a lot of pressure on one game.”
“When I wasn’t playing much last year every at bat felt like the first day of spring training,” Melhuse said. “Playing every fifth game is OK. I know my role here. You just have to find a way to succeed at it.”
Kendall had two hits and three RBIs, helping the A’s win their second straight while beating the Mariners for the fourth consecutive time this season. Jay Payton matched a career high with four hits and scored three runs.
Joe Blanton (4-4) ended a personal two-game skid and won his first game in May in his eighth start in the month over the last two seasons. He gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking none.
“I kept the ball down better tonight and that helped get me a lot of ground balls,” Blanton said. “Sometimes things just go right and there’s no reason. You could give up three bloop hits and then have three line drives right at somebody. That’s the way the thing goes.”
Felix Hernandez (2-5) gave up career-highs of 10 runs—five earned—and 11 hits in four innings. It was his shortest outing of the season and his second-shortest in 20 career starts. He lasted three innings against the Texas Rangers last Sept. 16. Hernandez, who also walked two and struck out four, was coming off his best start of the year, in which he allowed a run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings in beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last Tuesday.
“My pitches have all been good, but basically I couldn’t control them,” Hernandez said through an interpreter. “Every pitch I threw went up.”
A’s manager Ken Macha compared Swisher, who has reached base safely in 33 straight, to Suzuki before the game, praising both for the way they prepare for a game. Both players are routinely on the field hours before their teammates.
“He’s been carrying us,” Macha said of Swisher. “He’s been tremendous, more than probably we expected.”
Eric Chavez gave the A’s a 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI single before the A’s broke it open with five unearned runs in the third. A fielding error by Adrian Beltre paved the way for the outburst.
Mark Ellis and Mark Kotsay each singled to start the rally. With two outs, Beltre let Bobby Crosby’s hard grounder bounce untouched through his legs, allowing Ellis to score. Payton singled to load the bases and Melhuse drilled Hernandez’s 2-1 pitch over the right-center field fence for his second career grand slam.
“I really wasn’t sitting on anything because you have to respect all his pitches,” Melhuse said. “I had to stay back and react to the pitch, try to recognize it as soon as possible. I really had to make an adjustment from my first at bat when I was pulling my head out and not getting a good swing.”
Seattle got a run back in the fourth when Lopez scored while Richie Sexson hit into a double play, but Swisher padded the lead with his 13th homer of the year, a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning to put the A’s up 8-1.
Kendall hit a two-run single in the fifth and singled home another run in the sixth.
Payton added an RBI triple in the sixth.
Hernandez entered the game with a career 1.89 ERA in three previous starts against the A’s. … Mariners RHP Julio Mateo will throw a simulated game on Wednesday and could be activated from the DL as soon as Thursday. … A’s RHP Rich Harden threw from 120 feet on Monday and is tentatively scheduled for a bullpen session in Chicago on Monday. … A’s LHP Randy Keisler was placed on the bereavement list effective Monday. He left the team in New York to be with his ailing grandmother. He’s expected to rejoin the team on Thursday in Oakland. … A’s RHP Esteban Loaiza threw a side session and if everything goes well he will pitch a simulated game on Friday. … Melhuse hit his other grand slam on June 13, 2004 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.