Johjima, Betancourt homer to give Seattle 4-3 win over Oakland

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SEATTLE (AP)—Normally day games are a time of rest for Kenji Johjima, especially after catching the night before.

A sore neck to his backup caused Seattle manager John McLaren to reluctantly use Johjima on Saturday, for whom Johjima had a message afterward: “Good job skipper.”

Showing signs of coming out of his monthlong slump, Johjima hit a two-run homer, Yuniesky Betancourt added a solo shot and the Mariners took advantage of the only mistakes Oakland starter Chad Gaudin made in Seattle’s 4-3 win over the A’s.

Johjima’s two-out shot off the top of the wall in the second pulled Seattle even at 3-all, and Betancourt put the Mariners in front with his solo homer in the fifth. Johjima had been hitting just .165 in his last 28 games, after a torrid first-half where he hit nearly .300.

“I was feeling a lot better a couple of days ago, even though the hits were not there,” Johjima said. “But it’s gradually coming.”

The two homers ruined an otherwise stellar performance by Gaudin, who overpowered Seattle and yet lost his third straight decision. Gaudin (8-6) threw his first career complete game, allowing just four hits and throwing only 88 pitches in eight innings. He retired the final 11 batters he faced, struck out seven and walked only one.

Unfortunately for Gaudin, three of the four hits he allowed were for extra bases. He got no offensive support after the second inning, despite the inconsistency of Seattle starter Horacio Ramirez, who remained undefeated at home this year.

“I think I did well. I’m happy with it,” Gaudin said. “A couple of bad pitches, that happens.”

Ramirez (6-3) fought control problems to last six innings, despite five walks and throwing nearly as many balls as strikes. He gave up three runs in the second on a bases clearing double by Donnie Murphy, but otherwise managed to keep the A’s off the scoreboard and McLaren from having to use the bullpen early.

Ramirez improved to 6-0 at Safeco Field this year. He’s 0-3 with a 13.72 ERA away from home.

“A battle. I didn’t have my best control,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t have my best location I’ve had in the past, but I was able to make a pitch when I had to.”

Chris Reitsma, Sean Green, George Sherrill and Mark Lowe combined to work the seventh and eighth innings. Lowe got the second out of the eighth, his first appearance since August of last season as he recovers from elbow surgery.

J.J. Putz struck out pinch-hitter Jack Cust with two on to end the eighth and then struck out three in the ninth for his 30th save, rebounding from his first blown save of the year on Wednesday night in Texas. It was the first time in his career Putz recorded four strikeouts in a save opportunity.

“J.J. is J.J. You couldn’t tell the last few days if he still had the streak going or not,” McLaren said.

Adrian Beltre doubled and scored on Ben Broussard’s sacrifice fly before Johjima jumped on Gaudin’s second pitch. Gaudin retired eight of the next nine batters before Betancourt lined a 1-0 pitch almost to the same spot as Johjima, just clearing the wall above the 388-foot sign in left-center field. It was Betancourt’s fifth homer of the season and first since May 22 against Tampa Bay.

“(Gaudin) just made a couple of mistakes over the middle of the plate and they capitalized on both of them,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said.

Oakland had plenty of opportunities against Ramirez, but could not come through with a clutch two-out hit. Mark Kotsay, a late entry into the lineup, struck out with runners on first and third in the second inning after Oakland had already plated three runs.

Then in the fourth, Oakland loaded the bases on walks by Marco Scutaro, Murphy and Shannon Stewart. Kotsay hit the first pitch from Ramirez hard, but right at second baseman Jose Lopez on a hop, who easily threw out Kotsay. As he reached first base, Kotsay pulled off his helmet and slammed it to the dirt.

Notes

Oakland RF Travis Buck was a late scratch from the lineup because of a strained left forearm. … Beltre’s double was his sixth in the last four games. He leads the team with 29 doubles. … A fan came on the field during a pitching change in the eighth inning and talked in the outfield with Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez before security realized what was happening. As security approached, the fan gave Suzuki a hug then laid down on the grass. He was taken off in handcuffs. … Suzuki went hitless and is one hit shy of 1,500 career hits.

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