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Kazmir takes game to next level

OAKLAND -- Scott Kazmir's trade value may be at a season high after twirling a gem in a 4-0 win over the Mariners on Thursday night, holding Seattle to two hits in eight superb innings. All the while, the A's, winners of 12 of their last 18, have to wonder what their second half could look like with the lefty on their side.

"When you're that good, and we have the record that we do, there's going to be speculation and there's going to be guys talked about based on the fact they're in the last year of their contract," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I know he likes it here. He's all about his team. He's become a leader here the last couple years, by performance and in the clubhouse. He's a resource for me."

Kazmir's 48th start in green and gold, coming 19 months after the A's risked a two-year, $22 million deal on the veteran left-hander, was pure dominance.

"We've seen some great games out of him. That's the best I've seen him," Melvin said.

Video: [email protected]: Gutierrez doubles for first Mariners hit

Kazmir felt it from the beginning, retiring each of his 13 batters ahead of Franklin Gutierrez's double down the right-field line with one out in the fifth. To that point, he had yet to even allow the Mariners a fly ball, and an A's outfielder wouldn't record an out until the seventh inning.

Gutierrez was responsible for Seattle's only other hit, a leadoff single in the eighth inning -- Kazmir's last, following 105 pitches, with seven strikeouts in his pocket.

"I think he had enough," said Melvin of deciding not to send out Kazmir in the ninth. "I talked to him. I think the amount of breaking pitches kind of taxed him a bit today, but I was definitely willing to listen."

"I thought that was enough," Kazmir said. "I was thinking about it. Just felt like that was probably a good time."

Kazmir quickly established the inside part of the plate, allowing him to expand the zone with his entire repertoire and cling to his breaking pitches more than he's had to at this point in the season.

The lefty improved to 5-0 with a 0.91 ERA in seven starts against American League West competition this season. He's 0-5 with a 4.22 ERA against everyone else.

"I felt like I was in control. I did, with every pitch," he said. "I was throwing the curveball for a strike. I was able to throw a curveball into the dirt when I needed to. That's something I haven't had the past couple of starts. Just having that changeup, being able to throw that off a couple fastballs in the same spot, that was huge for me."

Added catcher Josh Phegley: "He didn't really give them anything to hit, and I think it frustrated them a little bit. They started getting a little more aggressive, and that's when we started throwing his changeup and his cutter down and they were just getting themselves out. He had everything working and changing speeds. It was pretty impressive."

Jane Lee is a reporter for
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