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Cruz, Cano fuel Mariners past A's, Manaea

Seattle hands Oakland's ace his worst start of year to take series
May 3, 2018

SEATTLE -- Sean Manaea has been a dominant force for the A's this year, but Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon helped solve Oakland's young lefty as the Mariners rolled to a 4-1 win in Thursday's series finale at Safeco Field.The Mariners have won seven of their last nine

SEATTLE -- Sean Manaea has been a dominant force for the A's this year, but Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon helped solve Oakland's young lefty as the Mariners rolled to a 4-1 win in Thursday's series finale at Safeco Field.
The Mariners have won seven of their last nine games and are just a half-game back of the Astros and Angels in the American League West at 18-12 heading into a three-game set with the Halos this weekend.
Cruz ripped a two-run home run and Cano had a pair of RBI singles in the first three innings against Manaea (4-3, 1.63 ERA), who allowed six hits and a season-high four runs in six innings. Gordon continued his recent tear with a 3-for-4 night with a pair of stolen bases and two runs scored from the leadoff spot.

"It's more relaxing as a hitter when you get those guys on base in front of you," Cruz said. "Dee got on base and Segura found a way to get him to third, so that makes it easy to drive in runs and put pressure on them. It was definitely a great game. We're on a pretty good roll."
Manaea had allowed just five earned runs in 43 ⅔ innings on the season and saw his 18-inning scoreless streak snapped by Cano's first-inning single.
Wade LeBlanc, making his first start in place of the injured Erasmo Ramirez, threw four scoreless innings with three hits allowed and a walk before being replaced after 70 pitches with a 4-0 lead.
A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty greeted reliever Chasen Bradford with a home run on his first pitch, but Bradford wound up retiring the next seven batters in a row as Seattle's bullpen avenged Wednesday's late-game struggles in a 3-2 setback.
Edwin Diaz, who took the loss on Wednesday, bounced back for his MLB-leading 13th save after Juan Nicasio struck out a trio of A's in the eighth and then flexed his muscles after hitting 97 mph on the radar gun.

Nicasio and Diaz each gave up home runs in the final two frames Wednesday to spoil James Paxton's 16-strikeout gem.
"He was pretty mad," Diaz said of his veteran setup man. "Yesterday he told me they got lucky against me. Today I want to face them and demonstrate I am the guy here. He told me when we were playing catch, 'If I don't throw 97 today I will retire.' I told him, 'You can't retire now.'"

Bradford picked up the win with his 2 1/3 innings of one-run ball, but tipped his hat to his teammates.
"It was a fantastic effort by the whole staff," the former Met said. "Getting Juan and Eddie back out there, it's amazing what those guys can do. And Wade started it out right. That's all you can ask for."
Gordon continued setting the table for Seattle's sluggers as the speedy leadoff man scored both runs driven in by Cano. Gordon singled, stole second, was bunted to third and strolled home on Cano's first base hit in the first. He doubled in the third, was again moved up by a Segura sacrifice before Cano drove him in again in the third. Gordon is 16-for-23 over the past five games to hike his average from .277 to .355, third in the AL behind Baltimore's Manny Machado and Boston's Mookie Betts. He also leads the Majors in stolen bases with 14.

Gordon did an Ichiro Suzuki arm stretch and tug of his sleeve before his first at-bat as a tribute to his former Marlins and Mariners teammate, who moved into an advisory role earlier in the day.
"I knew I'd be hitting first, and me and Ichi have a good relationship," Gordon said. "I just wanted to show my thanks for the things he's done for me."
Gordon went 10-for-14 against the A's to become just the fourth Mariner with at least 10 hits in a three-game series and first since Ichiro and Raul Ibanez both hit that mark against the Angels in a September set in 2004.
"How do you pitch Dee Gordon? I've been watching it all year and I'm not sure how you would do it. He can hit balls all over the strike zone and sometimes out of the strike zone. The speed out of the box is full-go, 100 percent down the line every time. And infielders know it. I love how he sets the tone for our ballclub." -- Mariners manager Scott Servais, on Gordon's ability to put pressure on an opposing pitcher and defense

Mike Leake (3-2, 6.48 ERA) faces the Angels for just the third time in his 10-year career in Friday's series opener. The 30-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous two encounters with the Halos and now faces right-hander Garrett Richards (3-1, 4.88 ERA) in the 7:10 p.m. PT contest.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB