The Oakland Athletics (3-4) battered Felix Hernandez but still found a way to lose in extra innings in the final game of the team’s opening homestand.
The Seattle Mariners ace gave up three runs on eight hits and Jesse Hahn took a no-hit bid into the sixth, but a 10-inning bomb from Nelson Cruz sent the A’s tumbling to a 8-7 loss.
Hernandez was uncharacteristically hittable on a bright Sunday afternoon at the O.co Coliseum, and Oakland got to the King in the fourth for three runs.
Billy Butler opened up the frame by taking a two-strike offering and clubbing a double off the wall in right field. Ike Davis followed and handed the A’s a 1-0 edge by lining a single up the middle. Butler actually could have been hosed at the plate if not for a bobble in center field by Austin Jackson and an inexplicable decision to throw to second base rather than home.
Stephen Vogt wrapped a triple just inside the first baseline and into the right-field corner to double the advantage. Josh Reddick then made it 3-0 by delivering his first hit of the season, cracking a single to center.
The wheels fell off for Hahn in the top of the sixth. Dustin Ackley connected on a double that clattered off the out-of-town scoreboard in right field to lead off the inning and break up Hahn’s no-hitter. The M’s cut the lead to 3-1 with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brad Miller. Hahn nearly escaped the jam, but his defense let him down.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Reddick charged in furiously to catch a low line drive, but instead the ball clattered off his glove as the Mariners tied the game 3-3.
“It’s not a slam-dunk easy play, but for him, it’s a play he makes most of the time,” said manager Bob Melvin.
Seattle then proceeded to tack on another run to make it 4-3 and end Hahn’s afternoon in the process.
“I got to control that situation better in the sixth inning,” said Hahn after he took his second loss in as many starts despite yielding just four earned runs. “I stayed relaxed the whole game. I kept the same approach. Like I said before, I should have kept that same approach in the sixth inning. I think I did a bad job of it.”
An inning later, Rickie Weeks put the game out of reach. With two outs, the pinch hitter stepped to the plate and connected on a three-run bomb that carried over the wall in center field.
In the ninth, the O.co roared to life as the A’s began to rally. The club cut the lead to 7-5 as the first five batters all reached base 7-5. Butler came to the dish with no outs and the bases loaded and hit into a double play, as Oakland edged to within a run. Eric Sogard then even the score, looping a single into shallow left field.
Nelson Cruz didn’t waste any time putting the Mariners back ahead. With two outs in the 10th, the right-fielder hit a home run to left field than hooked just inside the foul line and narrowly avoided the outstretched glove of a leaping Ben Zobrist. Even though the blast came on a two-out count, Vogt didn’t regret Tyler Clippard’s decision to challenge Cruz.
“He hit that ball off the end. Take your chances,” said Vogt. “Clippard is a change-up guy. That fact that he was waiting for a fastball is pretty crazy to me. But, you know, I wish we could take a lot of things back.”
Up next, the A’s embark on the first road trip of the season. Oakland opens up the 10-game jaunt with a contest against the Houston Astros on Monday at 5:10 p.m. at Minute Maid Park. Scott Kazmir takes the mound after throwing seven shutout frames and allowing just one hit in his first start.
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