A’s rally to beat Mariners again
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Playing third base for the first time in his major league career, Daric Barton let his instincts take over. With a hard relay throw coming and Seattle’s Luis Valbuena quickly approaching, the Oakland infielder didn’t have time to think about his options.
As Valbuena tried stretching a double into a triple, Barton grabbed the throw from second baseman Cliff Pennington then dropped his right knee to the ground to tag out Valbuena in the ninth inning, helping preserve the Athletics’ 8-7 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
Valbuena appeared to beat the throw but third base umpire Bill Miller paused before calling Valbuena out.
“I think when you haven’t played third in a while and it’s a low throw, your natural reaction is to just go down and make sure you catch it,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “It looked like the ball and the runner and everything got there at the same time. Barton said he just went to catch it and his knee went down and the guy slid into his knee.”
The Mariners didn’t see it that way.
Third base coach Sam Perlozzo screamed at Miller and interim manager Jim Riggleman came running out of the dugout to argue the call. Riggleman was ejected by Miller, the second time he’s been thrown out of a game this year.
“From a distance—I’m a couple hundred feet away—I just kind of assumed our guy was going to be in there,” said Riggleman, who watched the play again on video tape in the Mariners’ clubhouse afterward. “So when he was out I was surprised as much as anything and didn’t really give much thought to what happened. Bill felt he had it blocked off at the base.”
Valbuena thought the play was clear.
“I was safe,” he said. “I put my hand on the bag at the same time the ball got there. It was not close.”
Barton normally plays first base for the A’s but was pressed into duty at third when Jack Hannahan strained an oblique muscle after falling on the Oakland bullpen mound while catching a foul pop-up earlier in the seventh.
His two-out single in the eighth inning drove in Carlos Gonzalez with the go-ahead run, then he made the game-saving play in the ninth.
“When there’s a close play I normally block the bag,” said Barton, who made nine errors in 18 games at third base in the minors in 2007. “He called him out so he must have been out. It’s too tough for me to tell because I’m in the play. All I know is I dropped down and tried to block him and I left the call up to the umpire.”
Huston Street (6-5) pitched two innings for the win, getting a double play to escape a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth. Brad Ziegler worked the ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances, retiring Yuniesky Betancourt on a game-ending double play to send the Mariners to their 10th straight loss.
Kenji Johjima homered and drove in four runs for the Mariners. After being shut out in its previous two games, Seattle pounded out 11 hits, getting most of the production from the bottom of the lineup.
It still wasn’t enough.
Bryan LaHair hit a two-run homer but Seattle’s pitching staff blew leads of 5-2 and 7-4. The Mariners haven’t won since beating Texas 8-7 on Sept. 10.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Riggleman said. “Every time there was a bullpen move, that was me making that decision and every one of them blew up in my face. I’m not happy about that.”
Jeff Baisley went 2-for-2 with four RBIs and Bowen also drove in two runs for Oakland, which has won six of seven and 10 of 14.
Carlos Silva left after giving up a two-run single to Baisley in the fourth. The right-hander gave up four runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings, throwing 59 pitches in his shortest outing since coming off the disabled list Sept. 1.
Silva also committed his first error since 2004 when he bobbled Bobby Crosby’s sacrifice attempt in the fourth. Silva had gone 162 chances without making an error, the longest current streak among pitchers.
LaHair’s second-inning drive off Kirk Saarloos ended Seattle’s scoreless streak at 27 innings, whi tied the second-longest stretch in franchise history. Prior to LaHair’s homer, the Mariners hadn’t scored since the first inning of Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Kansas City.
The A’s tied it with three runs in the sixth. Gonzalez had a pinch-hit RBI single and Bowen added a two-run double off Roy Corcoran.
Seattle RF Ichiro Suzuki singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. … The A’s have struck out 1,167 times this season, the second-highest total in franchise history