OAKLAND -- Dee Gordon provides a lot of things for the Mariners -- speed, defense and the versatility to play center field again on Wednesday afternoon with Robinson Cano back at second base following his return from an 80-game suspension.
But game-winning two-run homers in the 12th inning? That's not one the Mariners expected -- yet gladly accepted -- as Gordon helped prevent a series sweep by the A's in a crucial 2-0 victory in the American League West showdown at the Coliseum.
"I got lucky," said Gordon. "I thought it was gone, but I'm not going to lie. They've been catching everything we hit, so ..."
Gordon's home run -- just his second of the year and first since the third game of the season on April 1 -- followed a one-out walk by Mike Zunino and set up closer Edwin Diaz for his Major League-leading 47th save of the season.
"I told him I was going to be able to score from first regardless," Zunino said of watching Gordon's game-winner sail overhead. "That was probably a lie, but I was just trying to get [as big a lead as possible]. Once I saw the outfielder's numbers, I knew it had a chance."
Statcast™ projected Gordon's homer at 367 feet, just enough to break up a classic pitchers' duel that saw the two teams battle through 11 scoreless innings before Gordon's 13th home run of his eight-year Major League career.
Gordon kissed each of his biceps as he crossed home plate, a signal to several teammates who kid him about his slender 168-pound frame.
"They've been calling me skinny, so I had to let 'em know I've got some guns," Gordon said. "And it was a big situation. The 12th inning in a playoff race? We're just having fun."
The fun continued in the clubhouse, with teammates noting Gordon hasn't had much practice at home run antics, given it's only his second of the year.
"You better get your celebrations in at that point," Zunino said.
Manager Scott Servais wondered if Gordon's position change -- he made his first start in the outfield since mid-May -- sparked his power surge.
"We've got him in center field, and he started hitting homers," Servais said with a smile. "The Mariners have had center fielders that hit homers before."
But Gordon isn't quite ready to assume the Ken Griffey Jr. mantle, quickly pointing out that he'd moved back to second base for the game's final four innings after some defensive changes.
The Mariners closed out their 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record, thanks to a four-game sweep in Houston, and they moved back within 2 1/2 games of the A's for the second AL Wild Card spot at 70-52.
Seattle is 7-5 against the A's, and the two clubs will face each other seven more times over the final 40 games of the season. The Mariners improved to 11-1 in extra-inning games.
Starters Mike Leake and Brett Anderson matched zeros into the eighth inning, both working quickly on a sunny afternoon in the Bay Area.
"All my pitches were there, for the most part," Leake said. "I didn't have to go to the secondary stuff as much and that helped a little, not having to tap into the tank too much."
Leake (8-7, 3.90 ERA) didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and finished with two hits and one walk with six strikeouts in a 95-pitch gem over eight frames.
"He had his stuff today," said Zunino. "It was a lot of fun to catch. He could move the ball around, threw all four or five of his pitches around the strike zone. It was crisp, just a perfect outing for him."
The Mariners opened the game with one-out singles in the first by Cano and Jean Segura, but Anderson got Nelson Cruz to hit into a double-play grounder and proceeded to throw 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball while allowing five hits on 83 pitches before A's manager Bob Melvin went to his bullpen.
Segura had four of Seattle's 10 hits, and Cano went 2-for-5 in his second game back.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leake gave up his first hit -- a leadoff triple by Nick Martini -- in the fourth and then walked Matt Chapman to put himself in a tight spot. But the veteran right-hander worked out of that in impressive fashion, striking out Oakland's No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters in Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis and Matt Olson in order. Olson slammed his helmet down in disgust after foul-tipping an 82-mph slider for strike three.
"Mike has done that a lot," Servais said. "He can dial it up. He's not a strikeout pitcher, per se, but in those situations, when he needs it … The big thing Mike doesn't do, he doesn't try to get strike three until he gets strike one and strike two. A lot of guys just put strikeout in their mind and before you know it, they're falling behind in the count. Mike doesn't do that. He attacks the strike zone, then makes pitches with two strikes. And he was able to do it again today."
Mariners reliever Alex Colome ran his scoreless streak to 20 innings with a blank ninth and the first out of the 10th. That's the longest active streak in the Majors for a reliever.
Diaz saved all six of Seattle's wins on its 6-4 road trip. He's converted 28 consecutive save situations, second to J.J. Putz's club-record 31 from 2006-07. His 47 saves are one shy of Fernando Rodney's team record 48 in '14 -- and the Mariners still have 40 games to play.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Not only did Gordon handle everything hit his way, but he also backtracked swiftly to haul in a scorching line drive over his head by Stephen Piscotty leading off the fifth. He wound up making four catches on the day. How did he feel back in center?
"I caught 'em," Gordon said. "That's all that matters."
HE SAID IT
"We dug down. We needed to get this ballgame today. We went 6-4 on the road and come back home. It's not going to get any easier, but we're starting to play with confidence again, some swag to our team. You need to win these games late, and we've been good at it." -- Servais
The Mariners return to Seattle to open a six-game homestand Friday against the Dodgers, with lefty Wade LeBlanc (7-2, 3.80 ERA) taking on right-hander Walker Buehler (5-4, 3.32) in the 7:10 p.m. PT opener. LeBlanc posted a 2.38 ERA, allowing three runs on five hits over 11 1/3 innings, in wins at Texas and Houston on Seattle's road trip. Now he looks to continue his Safeco Field success, where he's 6-1 with a 3.50 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) this year.