Athletics 7, Mariners 6, 10 innings

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SEATTLE (AP)—After resting two-thirds of his starting lineup, plus his ace pitcher, Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha decided to follow suit.

Bench coach Bob Geren managed the AL West champions to a 7-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners in a game that resembled spring training Wednesday night.

Bobby Kielty hit an RBI double in the 10th inning and Dan Johnson had a tying triple in the ninth to lead the A’s to their 17th win in 19 tries against Seattle this season.

One day after the A’s clinched their first division title since 2003, left-hander Barry Zito had his scheduled start Wednesday pushed back to Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels.

That sets him up to potentially start Game 1 of the playoffs on normal rest, but Macha wouldn’t divulge his pitchers for the first two games.

After a wild celebration Tuesday night, only Kielty, Nick Swisher and Marco Scutaro returned to the starting lineup.

But neither Zito’s scratch nor the lineup overhaul were the biggest surprise. That honor went to the managerial debut for Geren with Oakland.

“Mach told me last night, ‘You’re on tomorrow,”’ he said. “I really didn’t think anything of it until today because I wasn’t sure he was serious. But at the beginning of the game, he said, ‘You’re on.”’

In preparation for next week’s AL division series, against Minnesota or Detroit, Macha plans to give designated hitter Frank Thomas, third baseman Eric Chavez and catcher Jason Kendall at least two days off between now and Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Angels.

Hiram Bocachica led off the 10th with a single against George Sherrill (2-4) and went to second on Scutaro’s sacrifice bunt. Kielty followed with a double over Ichiro Suzuki’s head in center to make it 7-6.

Jay Witasick (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win and Huston Street got three outs for his 37th save in 47 chances.

“That’s honestly where my focus was tonight,” Street said, referring to the postseason. “Trying to get my stuff right.”

With the A’s trailing by two in the ninth, Kielty and Swisher singled off J.J. Putz before Johnson’s two-run triple tied it at 6.

But after Adam Melhuse struck out and D’Angelo Jimenez was intentionally walked, Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt threw out Johnson at the plate on Jeremy Brown’s grounder. Antonio Perez then struck out to end the inning.

It was Putz’s seventh blown save in 41 opportunities.

Suzuki had two hits, an RBI and a run scored in his return to Seattle’s lineup after sitting out Tuesday night—snapping a streak of 396 consecutive games played. He was hit in the shoulder by a pickoff attempt Monday night.

Mariners starter Gil Meche allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander walked five and struck out seven.

“I couldn’t quite get the ball where I wanted it and was leaving the fastball over the plate, and they were going with it to the opposite field,” Meche said.

Meche hasn’t lost in seven starts, with five no-decisions.

“Probably the last couple innings was as sharp as he was the whole game,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said.

Jason Windsor made his first major league start in place of Zito, allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings.

Oakland had a 1-0 lead after Meche had thrown seven pitches. Scutaro’s double scored Bocachica in the first, and Swisher doubled home Scutaro.

Perez, the No. 9 hitter, tripled in the second to score Jimenez and put Oakland up 3-0.

Adrian Beltre’s sacrifice fly in the third scored Suzuki, who reached on his eighth triple of the season. It was Suzuki’s 49th career triple, breaking Harold Reynolds’ club mark.

Richie Sexson doubled home Raul Ibanez in the fourth to make it 3-2. Sexson, who advanced to third on Ben Broussard’s single, scored on Jose Lopez’s infield hit to tie it.

Betancourt’s RBI groundout scored Broussard to give Seattle a 4-3 lead. Suzuki’s single drove in Lopez for a 5-3 edge.

Melhuse’s RBI single off Joel Pineiro in the seventh scored Kielty to make it 5-4.

Betancourt added an RBI double in the eighth.


Seattle C Kenji Johjima also returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game due to back spasms. A foul tip off Melhuse’s bat in the seventh hit Johjima’s throwing hand, bringing trainer Rick Griffin out for a brief look. … Beltre’s season-high 16-game hitting streak was snapped. He was 0-for-4. … The A’s, who have come from behind in eight of their last nine wins, improved to 8-4 in extra innings. Seattle is 8-8. … Scutaro has a season-high 10-game hitting streak.

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