SEATTLE -- You can excuse Andrew Triggs if the A's right-hander doesn't send Nelson Cruz a birthday card when the burly Mariners designated hitter turns 38 in two months.
Cruz continued tormenting Triggs with a three-run homer Tuesday and Dee Gordon cranked out a 5-for-5 night with two stolen bases as the Mariners maintained their recent roll with a 6-3 victory in the series opener between the American League West rivals at Safeco Field.
"In a close game a three-run homer is pretty impactful," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That kind of did him in. Other than the three-run homer he pitched around some traffic and got out of it. But when you're not scoring many runs, a three-run homer obviously was the biggest swing of the game."
Cruz has just 10 plate appearances against the 29-year-old Triggs, but is 4-for-8 with three home runs and a pair of walks. The latest damage came after Triggs battled Felix Hernandez to a 1-1 tie into the fifth inning and then retired Robinson Cano on a deep drive -- projected at 404 feet by Statcast™ -- that Mark Canha hauled in at the center-field wall.
But on the next pitch, Cruz cleared the bases by going even deeper with a 410-foot shot over the fence, his sixth homer of the season despite missing nine games with a sprained ankle.
"Just one pitch. Bad pitch," Triggs said. "Everybody's got to wiggle out of situations here and there, you get Cano out and you really like your chances to go out there and execute and make a nice pitch to keep things even there at 1-1. It was the right pitch, bad location. And he did what good hitters do with that."
A's second baseman Jed Lowrie continued his own hot start to the season with a solo shot off Hernandez in the first for his seventh home run of the year. Two of those long balls have come off the long-time Mariners ace.
Hernandez improved to 4-2 with a 4.89 ERA as he gave up three runs on three hits with four walks and seven strikeouts over six-plus innings. Triggs (2-1, 5.20) took his first loss as he allowed four runs on six hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.
The Mariners have won eight of their past 11 games to move within 1 1/2 games back of front-running Houston in the AL West at 17-11. The A's lost their third straight in falling to 14-15.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hernandez only allowed two hits through six innings, but the A's chased him with a leadoff walk by Khris Davis and a double by Matt Olson in the seventh. Oakland pushed both runners home against reliever Nick Vincent on an infield single by Canha and a groundout by Chad Pinder, but Vincent got out of the frame with a pair of strikeouts, Juan Nicasio fired a 1-2-3 eighth with two more K's and closer Edwin Diaz finished things off with his MLB-leading 12th save.
The A's came into the game leading the Majors with 19 two-out home runs and added another with Lowrie's high-arching shot off Hernandez in the first inning. The Mariners are one back with 19 after Cruz did the same in the fifth.
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A's reliever Yusmeiro Petit made an outstanding defensive play on a grounder up the middle by Jean Segura in the eighth, gloving the ball with a blind stab behind his back and throwing Segura out for the second out in the inning. With runners on first and third, a run scored on the play, but Petit avoided a bigger inning by getting Segura and then retiring Cano to end the frame.
Veteran southpaw Brett Anderson will be promoted from Triple-A Nashville to make his first start for the A's since 2013 when Oakland faces Mariners lefty James Paxton (1-1, 5.12 ERA) in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco Field. Anderson signed a Minor League deal with the A's in March and is 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in four starts for Nashville, with 25 strikeouts and two walks in 19 innings.