Wednesday, September 03, 2014
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Mariners survive Athletics' comeback attack

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[September 03, 2014]  OAKLAND, Calif. -- In the first inning of his first career appearance against Oakland on Monday, James Paxton gave the A's a taste of what was to come.

The Seattle Mariners left-hander threw 10 consecutive fastballs, each one between 95 and 98 mph, in a one-two-three inning.

Paxton kept throwing heat and mowing down A's batters, allowing just two runs on four hits -- all singles -- over 7 2/3 innings as the Mariners withstood a furious A's rally and held on for 6-5 victory at the Coliseum.

"This young man has greatness written all over him," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's just got to stay healthy."

A two-run, fifth-inning homer by third baseman Kyle Seager helped Seattle take a 6-0 lead against A's right-hander Sonny Gray, and Paxton (5-1) blanked the A's for the first seven innings. Paxton walked three and struck out only two, but he kept getting ground balls, and the Mariners turned three of those into double plays.

"I was just going at them with my fastball," Paxton said. "They weren't making the adjustment, and they were hitting ground balls and hitting it right at guys, so I just kept on pounding away. They got themselves out."

The A's (79-59) remain 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the American League West. Oakland owns the AL's top wild-card spot, but its lead over the Detroit Tigers fell to three games and its edge over Seattle (74-63) dropped to 4 1/2 games.

Paxton left the game with two outs and runners on first and third in the eighth inning. A's pinch hitter Adam Dunn then lined an RBI single to right off reliever Yoervis Medina, cutting Seattle's lead to 6-1. After a Medina wild pitch, center fielder Craig Gentry, who had a season-high-tying three hits, lined a two-run double to left, making it 6-3.

Mariners closer Fernando Rodney gave up two runs in the ninth on back-to-back-to-back, two-out doubles by designated hitter Derek Norris, pinch hitter Brandon Moss and pinch hitter Sam Fuld as the A's cut Seattle's lead to 6-5.

Rodney retired right fielder Josh Reddick on a ground ball to end the game and record his 40th save, the second most in the AL.

"You look at the guy tonight," Norris said of Paxton, "he's running up to 99 mph on our gun, which is slow. I wouldn't focus too much on the negatives but focus on the positives that we were one swing away from winning the ballgame tonight."

Gray (13-8) entered the game with a 4-0 record and 1.10 ERA in five career starts against Seattle. He gave up six runs on seven hits and lasted only five innings, striking out two and walking two. After going 5-0 in June, Gray is 1-5 in his past seven starts.

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"I felt OK," Gray said. "I've definitely felt better, but I've felt worse as well. Just OK."

Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson went 2-for-4 with a two-run single in the third inning. Right fielder Endy Chavez drove in two runs with a double in the fourth, and Seager made it 6-0 with his two-run shot an inning later.

"He's tough," Seager said of Gray. "He's definitely one of those guys you've got your hands full with. He's got good stuff. He mixes it up. He locates really well. He's definitely a guy that you have to bring your best against."

The same could be said for Paxton.

"He's been phenomenal," Seager said. "You see the way he was working tonight. Working fast, throwing strikes. He gets a lot of ground balls. He obviously has great stuff. There's a different feel with him. He goes right at them. He attacks hitters. He's pretty special."

NOTES: The A's recalled LHP Drew Pomeranz and 1B Nate Freiman from Class A Beloit. Freiman started at first base and went 0-for-2 with a walk. ... Seattle recalled LHP James Paxton and RHP Erasmo Ramirez from Triple-A Tacoma. Paxton made his eighth start of the season. ... A's catcher John Jaso (concussion symptoms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since landing on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 14. "I think that coming back in the near future is definitely a very good possibility," Jaso said. ... A's LHP Sean Doolittle (strained right intercostal muscle) played catch for the first time since going on the 15-day DL on Aug. 24. It is unclear when Doolittle will be ready to return. ... After back-to-back rough starts, Mariners RHP Chris Young could have his turn in the rotation skipped Saturday against Texas. Manager Lloyd McClendon said Young will have to convince him that he is fully healthy in order to make his next start.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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