Graveman's arm, Zo's bat carry A's past M's
OAKLAND -- A's rookie Kendall Graveman outdueled Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Saturday as Oakland won a Fourth of July afternoon showdown, 2-0, at the Coliseum.
Graveman allowed just five hits over seven scoreless innings, improving his record as a starter to 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA in nine games since being recalled from Triple-A in late May. The win pulls the A's (38-46) to a half-game behind Seattle (37-44) at the bottom of the American League West.
"Ever since he got called back up from Triple-A, he's been lights out," reliever Evan Scribner said of Graveman. "He's pitching just as good as anybody in baseball."
Hernandez took his first loss in Oakland since 2008, a span of 14 starts, and fell to 10-5 with a 3.02 ERA on the season. He dodged trouble throughout as he allowed a season-high 10 hits but just two runs, holding the A's to 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position over seven innings.
"It was tough today," said Hernandez. "It was a battle all day long. I was just trying to make good pitches when I got runners in scoring position."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
High-wire act by Hernandez: The Mariners ace gave up four hits and two walks in the first two innings but held the A's to just one run. He escaped a first-and-third situation with two out in the first when Josh Reddick was caught in a rundown off first, with shortstop Brad Miller throwing home to nail Stephen Vogt for the out. The A's then loaded the bases with no outs in the second, but Hernandez struck out Marcus Semien, got Billy Burns on a shallow fly to center and ended it with a groundout by Vogt, who wound up going 2-for-3 on the day and is now batting .600 with two walks against the King in his career.
"Any time you beat Felix in any building, anywhere, it's huge," Vogt said. More >
One-upping one of the best: Graveman outpitched Hernandez, tossing seven shutout innings and silencing a Mariners lineup that had exploded for nine runs the night before. Graveman gave up just five hits and threw 67 of his 109 pitches for strikes. He has now yielded just six runs over his past six starts and has tossed 16 straight scoreless innings. His streak of allowing two runs or fewer in seven or more innings in six straight starts is the longest by a rookie pitcher in Oakland history.
"Outstanding. Efficient," Vogt said of Graveman's performance. "I thought he did such a great job today of getting to 0-2 and putting them away quickly." More >
Missed opportunities for Mariners: Seattle got little going against Graveman but took itself out of a first-inning situation with one out and runners on first and second when Austin Jackson was thrown out by Vogt trying to steal third with Nelson Cruz at the plate. The Mariners missed out also in the seventh -- again with one out and two on -- when A's first baseman Ike Davis made a nice diving stop of a hard shot by Seth Smith and flipped to Graveman for a tough catch at first. Graveman then got Mark Trumbo to fly out to end that threat and preserve his scoreless day.
"That was a bad jump," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Jackson being thrown out at third. "He can't go there. I understand he wants to be aggressive and the guy is slow [to the plate], but if you don't get a good jump, you can't go. We let them back into that inning."
Beating one of the best: Hernandez entered the matchup 10-2 with a 2.64 ERA in Oakland, but the A's defied the odds by getting to him early. In the first, Ben Zobrist singled home Burns after Burns singled and stole second. The A's had three baserunners by the time Hernandez recorded an out. Oakland loaded the bases with no outs in the second and nearly tacked on a run, but Hernandez escaped from the jam. A Zobrist sacrifice fly in the seventh scored Burns and bumped the lead to two runs.
"It feels good, especially here at home. He's just handed it to us here at home," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
"As a whole, I think we hit the ball way better than the scorebook showed. Billy Burns, you have to play in on him, and he hits the chopper off the plate over my head and comes around to score. Seth Smith, with a runner in scoring position, he hit the ball hard on the ground twice, and they make diving plays. It happens. It's baseball. It [stinks]. But as a whole, we have to do a better job being patient, getting a better pitch to hit. It's frustrating, for sure." -- Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison
"Maybe the best mix we've seen out of him." -- Melvin, on Graveman
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hernandez hadn't lost in Oakland since Sept. 19, 2008, and is now 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 career starts at the Coliseum.
Vogt is now hitting .600 against Hernandez.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Reddick was initially called out on a 5-4-3 double play with no outs in the first inning. After a review, the call was reversed, and Reddick was deemed safe. The A's didn't score any more runs in the frame, and held a one-run lead after one.
Mariners: Rookie left-hander Mike Montgomery (3-2, 1.62 ERA) has a shot to make some history when he takes the mound for Sunday's series finale in Oakland. Montgomery has thrown back-to-back shutouts, including a one-hitter on Tuesday at San Diego. Randy Johnson is the only Mariners pitcher to throw three straight shutouts (1994) and the last MLB rookie to pull off the feat was the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in 1984.
A's: Right-hander Chris Bassitt (0-1, 2.87 ERA) gets the nod for the A's, fresh off a performance on Tuesday in which he allowed one earned run in five innings in a loss to the Rockies. Bassitt is filling in for Sonny Gray, who has been sidelined with a severe case of salmonella, for the second straight start.
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