Mariners, 3, Athletics 2

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- That didn't long.

In just his second major-league game, Mariners rookie catcher Mike Zunino hit his first career home run, lifting Seattle to a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics at the O.co. Coliseum on Friday.

Zunino launched a solo shot to center field off A's left-hander Tommy Milone with one out in the top of the seventh inning, snapping a 1-1 tie.

Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders held the A's to one run on five hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking two to earn the win and end Oakland's 11-game home winning streak.

The Mariners added a run in the eighth, using singles by Nate Franklin, Kyle Seager and Raul Ibanez off reliever Dan Otero to take a 3-1 lead.

Leading off the bottom of the eighth, A's center fielder Chris Young hit a monster home run to deep left against Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar, cutting the lead to 3-2.

The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Michael Morse, back in the lineup after missing one game with a strained right quad, hit an opposite-field, leadoff double to right-center off Milone. Morse moved to third on Ibanez's infield single and scored when rookie Zunino hit into a double play.

The A's pulled even in the fifth. With two outs and Adam Rosales on first, Eric Sogard blooped an RBI double to right field as second baseman Nick Franklin and right fielder Jason Bay collided. Franklin had the ball in his glove, but a hard-charging Bay, who appeared to be in better position to make the play, knocked the ball loose.

Before the game, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was giving the struggling Tom Wilhelmsen a break from closing and going with a closer by committee. Left-hander Oliver Perez pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his first career save at the age of 31. Perez allowed a two-out single to Josh Reddick but retired Adam Rosales on a fly ball to right.

In his major-league debut Wednesday against Houston, Zunino got his first hit, a single off Jordan Lyles, and threw out a base stealer. Now he has a home run on his big-league resume.

With a 1-1 count, Milone threw Zunino a changeup on the outer part of the plate, and the rookie wasn't fooled. He sent it over the 400-foot sign in center, just out of the reach of a leaping Young.

The Mariners drafted Zunino with the third overall pick in the 2012 June draft out of the University of Florida. He's the first position player from that draft class to reach the major leagues.

Milone turned in another solid outing, holding the Mariners to two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three but left with the A's trailing 2-1.

The A's were coming off a 3-2 victory Thursday over the Yankees that took 18 inning and lasted five hours and 35 minutes. The A's looked like a tired team, and it didn't help that center fielder Coco Crisp was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a bruised right heel, and third baseman Josh Donaldson was out with a strained right hamstring. A's slugger Yonenis Cespedes returned to the lineup as the designated hitter after missing back-to-back games with a strained left hamstring, but he wasn't 100 percent healthy.

Of course Saunders had a lot to do with the A's troubles at the plate. He entered the game with a 14-6 record and 3.47 ERA in 22 career starts against the A's, a team he's face more time than any other in the majors.

NOTES: Catcher Henry Blanco, 41, signed as a free agent with the Mariners on Friday. A veteran of 16 major-league seasons, Blanco was released by Toronto on June 10. To clear a spot for Blanco on their 25-man roster, the Mariners designated catcher Kelly Shoppach for assignment. Blanco will back up and mentor Zunino. "I told him if he needs to ask questions or wants to do some work, I'm here for him," Blanco said of Zunino. ... Mariners right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who had his fourth blown save of the season Wednesday against Houston, has been removed temporarily from the closer's role, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said before Friday night's game. Wedge said he has "every intention of getting him back to the closer's role," but will "give him a break here, let him pitch a few times in the sixth, seventh, eighth inning." Wedge said he'll use a closer-by-committee until Wilhelmsen regains that job. ... The A's agreed to contract terms with first-round draft pick Billy McKinney, a center fielder from Plano West High School in Plano, Texas, and Virginia Tech shortstop Chad Pinder, their third overall pick. McKinney took batting practice Friday at the Coliseum. "I thought I'd feel some butterflies, but after the first two swings I felt good," McKinney said. ... The A's called up right-handed reliever Dan Otero from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned right-hander Hideki Okajima to Sacramento. Otero, a former Giant, was 1-0 with a 0.99 ERA in 23 appearances for the River Cats.
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