Mariners rally against usually reliable A's 'pen

Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The game had barely begun Tuesday night, and the Seattle Mariners were already staring at big deficit after the Oakland A's erupted for four runs in the first inning off left-hander Joe Saunders.
By the eighth inning, the Mariners still trailed 4-2, and they faced an A's team that was 55-2 when leading after seven.
"They were very positive in the dugout," Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson said of his players. "And yeah, we know that (the A's) have an outstanding bullpen down there, but they kept grinding it out and made the best of some opportunities."
The Mariners grinded their way to five runs in the eighth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate, and held on for a 7-4 victory at the Coliseum.
A's left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle (4-5) gave up four straight hits and didn't retire a batter in the eighth before giving way to righty Ryan Cook with the scored knotted 4-4.
Doolittle was charged with four runs, tying his career high. In one-third of an inning, Cook walked two and threw two wild pitches, each one bringing home a run. He was charged with one run.
Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin cut the Athletics' 4-0 lead in half with a two-run homer in the third inning off rookie right-hander Sonny Gray. In the eighth, Franklin tied the game with an RBI single, then later scored the fourth run of the inning on a close play at the plate that cost him five stitches in his left knee.
"They definitely got a great bullpen," said Franklin, who said he might be sidelined for as long as a week. "More than anything, though, we were just locked in and trying to make them make pitches."
Michael Saunders laced a leadoff single to center in the eighth and moved to third on Henry Blanco's double down the left field line -- the ball bounced in and out of Yoenis Cespedes' glove on his backhand attempt after a long run.
Brad Miller lined an RBI single to center, scoring Saunders and cutting Oakland's lead to 4-3. Then Franklin singled sharply to left, driving in pinch runner Brendan Ryan as the Mariners pulled even.
That was it for Doolittle.
"I wasn't walking guys, but I was leaving stuff over the plate," Doolittle said.
Enter Cook, who walked Kyle Seager, loading the bases. Miller scored on a wild pitch, giving Seattle a 5-4 lead. Franklin scored from third on Kendrys Morales' ground ball to second baseman Alberto Callaspo, as Franklin beat catcher Derek Norris' sweep tag off Callaspo's throw. Franklin and Norris limped away and left the game with injuries.
Norris suffered a fractured big left toe and might be headed to the disabled list.
"We don't see that often," A's manager Bob Melvin said of his bullpen's meltdown. "That surprises everybody, but you're going to have some games you don't get it down, and that's what happened today. They had some good at-bats, strung some hits together, and it happened pretty quickly."
Cook finally got the first out, fanning Justin Smoak. However, Seager scored from third on a wild pitch to Michael Morse, making it 7-4 and ending Cook's night.
Mariners right-hander Brandon Maurer (4-7), who threw a scoreless seventh, got the win. Yoervis Medina pitched a scoreless eighth, and Danny Farquhar threw a perfect ninth for his eighth save
The A's fell 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Gray held the Mariners to two runs on two hits over seven innings. He struck out seven, walked two and got a no-decision.
The Mariners had to like their odds of winning with Saunders on the mound. He entered the game 15-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 23 starts against the A's. He was 7-3 at the Coliseum. He has more wins against the A's than against any other team and more wins at the Coliseum than at any other stadium.
But in the bottom of the first inning, Josh Donaldson hit a two-run blast and Nate Freiman a solo shot off Saunders, powering the A's to 4-0 lead. The A's batted around, and Saunders threw 40 pitches in the inning.
Saunders recovered to pitch five shutout innings but left with the Mariners trailing 4-2. Saunders allowed 10 hits and four runs over six innings, walking three and striking out two.
"You keep telling yourself, you only made one bad pitch, and that was to Freiman," Saunders said. "Donaldson, I made a good pitch and he put a good swing on it. So you just tip your cap, try to minimize damage and keep us there for a while.
"If I can take one good thing out of this start, that was it, keeping us in the game, keeping it at four runs for a little bit, giving our offense a chance to do their thing. It was a good comeback win for us."
NOTES: Morse was in the starting lineup in right field after missing two games due to a strained left wrist. ... Oakland CF Coco Crisp, as expected, was out of the starting lineup. The switch-hitting Crisp missed seven straight starts due to a strained left wrist before starting Monday night's game against the Mariners and RHP Aaron Harang. Crisp is experiencing more discomfort swinging right-handed, so Melvin kept him out of the lineup against Saunders. Crisp will start Wednesday's series finale against RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. ... RHP A.J. Griffin will start Wednesday for Oakland.

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