Miller lifts Mariners over A's in 11th; Cruz homers
OAKLAND -- Mariners shortstop Brad Miller hit a go-ahead, RBI double off A's reliever Fernando Abad in the 11th inning, leading Seattle to a 5-4 victory at the Coliseum on Saturday to split the first two games of this three-game series. Miller's knock plated first baseman Logan Morrison, who led off with a single and advanced to second on Dustin Ackley's sacrifice bunt. More >
Right fielder Nelson Cruz launched a three-run homer off Oakland reliever Dan Otero in the eighth to give the Mariners a 4-2 lead, but the A's answered back against Seattle's bullpen with two runs in the bottom of the inning, getting a pair of RBI doubles from Ben Zobrist and Brett Lawrie.
"Last night we got punched in the face," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, as his team bounced back from a 12-0 loss. "And we got hit in the mouth today as well. I thought our guys rebounded and did a little punching of their own. This shows the type of fortitude this club has, because that was a gut-wrenching type of game, and they really battled and continued to fight and came out on top in the end."
Before the drama began, A's right-hander Sonny Gray and Mariners lefty J.A. Happ swapped zeroes for much of the first six frames, outside of Ackley's third-inning leadoff homer. Gray lasted 7 1/3 innings for Oakland, allowing two runs on six hits, while Happ made it through 6 1/3, allowing a pair of runs in the seventh after setting down 13 in a row. He gave up seven hits.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rookie survivor: Mariners reliever Tyler Olson wiggled out of trouble in the 10th with help from a perfect relay from center fielder Austin Jackson to Miller to catcher Mike Zunino that nailed Zobrist at the plate as he tried to score from first on an Ike Davis double. Olson, pitching in just his third big league game, then escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Marcus Semien to ground out to send the game to the 11th inning.
Challenging day: The A's were stung by two challenges Saturday, including a crucial one in the Mariners' three-run eighth inning. Seattle successfully challenged a play at second base, when reliever Eric O'Flaherty threw to second for an attempted force on Jackson, and Semien stopped just short of the bag with his foot before throwing to first. The out call at second was overturned, putting runners on first and second with one out, setting the stage for Cruz's two-out, go-ahead three-run homer off Otero.
"It was a bad throw. It was on me 100 percent," said O'Flaherty. "We work on that all spring, and I messed it up. You've got to throw that over the bag there, so that's on me." More >
Hello, Mr. Cruz: Cruz had been struggling in his first five games with Seattle, batting .111 (2-for-18) with a pair of singles … until he unloaded his three-run bomb in the top of the eighth inning off Otero to give the Mariners a 4-2 lead. After leading the Majors in home runs last year with 40 for the Orioles, this was the first of Cruz's career for Seattle after signing a four-year, $57 million deal in free agency. He was 3-for-5 on the day. More >
Sonny times: Gray continued his early-season dominance, his lone blemish Saturday coming on Ackley's third-inning leadoff home run. Oakland's ace allowed only five other hits and walked just one, striking out four over 7 1/3 innings.
"Great again, and a little under the weather today, too," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "You couldn't ask for more than what he gave us." More >
"The biggest thing was last year we didn't have too many of these games that we pulled off. Sometimes we had it on the reverse end. So to win a game like this early and know we can come back … it's nice to see that early, and we can build on that." -- Zunino.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Ackley homered leading off the third inning, it gave the Mariners their first lead since their Opening Day victory. Ackley's bolt snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak by Gray dating back to Sept. 23 of last year.
Reliever Danny Farquhar replaced Happ after the A's finally got to Seattle's starter in the seventh. Trailing 2-1 and with runners on first and third, Farquhar immediately fielded a bunt by Tyler Ladendorf and flipped it to catcher Jesus Sucre, who tagged Josh Phegley in a close play at the plate. The A's challenged the call, but the out stood, and replay officials also ruled there was no violation of the home-plate blocking rule, keeping Seattle within a run.
Mariners: After a dominating Opening Day victory over the Angels, Felix Hernandez closes out Seattle's first three-game road series with the A's in a 1:05 p.m. PT contest at the Coliseum. He'll face a familiar foe in the A's, having gone 19-7 with a 2.58 ERA in 35 prior meetings.
Athletics: Oakland will counter with right-hander Jesse Hahn, who allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings in his first start in green and gold last week, a 3-1 loss to the Rangers.
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