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Gray, A's bullpen secure 3-1 win

The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- The Oakland Athletics came out of the gate strong on Saturday night, spotting starter Sonny Gray a two-run lead and then watching him masterfully shut down the Seattle Mariners for seven innings.

But it was how the A's closed out the 3-1 win that really mattered.

Oakland (7-4) got through a shaky ninth inning without blowing a save, which was a step in the right direction for an team that had already stripped veteran Jim Johnson of his duties as closer.

Left-hander Sean Doolittle came on for Gray in the eighth and retired four consecutive batters before right-hander Luke Gregerson worked his way out of a jam to pick up his first save of the season.

Gregerson gave up back-to-back singles with one out before closing the door on Seattle (6-4) to finish off the win. Afterward, A's manager Bob Melvin showed little concern about his bullpen situation.

"I felt like we had it," he said of the ninth. "I felt good about those guys we had in there."

Third baseman Josh Donaldson provided all the offense that Gray and the A's bullpen needed with a two-run homer in the top of the first. First baseman Brandon Moss added an RBI single in the third.

Gray (2-0) gave up five hits in seven solid innings, allowing one run while striking out nine.

"He's pitching well when you look at the numbers," Melvin said, "but I still don't think we've seen his best game yet."

Gray dominated a Mariners lineup that included eight left-handed or switch hitters after giving up back-to-back singles to the first two batters he faced.

"We hit him hard, but it just seemed like they had fielders in the right spots," Mariners catcher John Buck said. "He kept our key guys off balance and stayed ahead in the count, which is obviously a key to the game."

Melvin announced earlier in the week that Johnson would not be closing games for the time being after the free-agent signee posted an 18.90 ERA in his first five appearances of the season.

Gregerson, who had 16 saves in 40 chances during five seasons with the San Diego Padres, gave up back-to-back, one-out singles in the ninth but settled down to get a strikeout and game-ending groundout -- stranding both Seattle runners on base.

The Mariners (6-4) left eight runners on base in the game.

Oakland welcomed back leadoff man Coco Crisp, who had not been in the lineup in any of the A's previous four games because of a wrist injury. Crisp went 1-for-3 and scored two of Oakland's three runs.

"It all starts with him," Melvin said. "He's a very important guy for us. We're very cognizant of using him. He's a key guy for us, and he got us going again today."

The A's jumped out early on Crisp's leadoff single and Donaldson's one-out, two-run homer off Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez in the top of the first.

Ramirez lasted just five innings, allowing three earned runs and six hits, before reliever Dominic Leone came on to open the sixth. Ramirez walked three batters while striking out two.

"He was a little erratic tonight," Buck said, "not his normal self."

Ramirez said he was thinking too much on the mound and added that the home run he allowed to Donaldson came on a cut-fastball that did not break.

"I tried to be aggressive on the outside corner," he said, "but I stayed a little bit high and he took advantage of that."

Second baseman Robinson Cano's RBI groundout in the bottom of the first cut the Seattle deficit to 2-1 before Moss drove in an Oakland run with a third-inning single.

NOTES: Oakland activated OF Craig Gentry (back) from the 15-day disabled list and designated OF Sam Fuld for assignment. ... The Mariners announced that RHP Blake Beavan likely will be the starter on Tuesday at Texas, although he still needs to be called up from Triple-A. Beavan will fill the role vacated when LHP James Paxton went on the 15-day disabled list earlier in the week. Beavan and RHP Taijuan Walker, a 21-year-old phenom who is currently on a rehab assignment, were the main options to fill the role. ... Mariners RHP Chris Young, a nine-year veteran who spent the 2013 season in the New York Mets' minor-league system, is scheduled to make his starting debut with Seattle on Sunday. His first scheduled start was rained out in Oakland, and Young's only appearance this season came in a two-inning stint out of the bullpen -- his first relief appearance as a professional. ... The Mariners traded RHP Hector Noesi to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named and cash considerations. Noesi made the Opening Day roster but had subsequently been designated for assignment.
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