SEATTLE (AP) — Catcher Tom Murphy turned toward the stands behind home plate, pumped his fist and seemed to try to scream in celebration above the din of noise emanating from the cheers of the home crowd.
The Seattle Mariners made it clear this weekend that for now they intend to be part of the American League wild-card conversation.
“I think it’s been preached this rebuild so much, but I mean we’re right there on the edge of this thing,” Seattle's Kyle Seager said. “Certainly you would like to have them make moves and get the team as good as we possibly can. I mean, I'd like to make a run out of it.”
Seager hit a two-out, two-run single as part of Seattle’s four-run third inning, Marco Gonzales won his second straight decision, and the Mariners inched closer in the AL wild-card chase with a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Seattle took three of four in the series — all by one run — and pulled within 1½ games of the A’s for the second wild card in the AL, perhaps setting up the Mariners to be buyers rather than sellers ahead of the trade deadline.
The Mariners (54-46) are eight games over .500 for the first time since April 2019 and improved to 23-8 in one-run games.
“We've got a good group that really sticks together and it’s different guys every day,” Gonzales said. “You see guys step up and it’s really hard to pinpoint what’s been working because everybody just kind of puts their head down and goes to it. There's a lot of unselfish baseball being played.”
The Mariners did all their offensive damage in the third inning against Oakland starter Cole Irvin, scoring four times with two outs. Gonzales (3-5) and four relievers made the early offense hold up, allowing one run and three hits over the final six innings.
Gonzales allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and threw a season-high 105 pitches. JT Chargois, Casey Sadler and Anthony Misiewicz combined to allow one run and one hit in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Seth Brown’s pinch-hit solo homer off Sadler was the only damage.
Seattle's Drew Steckenrider got some defensive help in the ninth when left fielder Jake Bauers threw out Matt Chapman trying to go from first to third on Mitch Moreland's single for the second out. Steckenrider got a popout from Brown to finish his third save.
“When he went, I was fine with it. I want him to try and get to third with less than two outs,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Now you got a left-handed hitter up, hole open over at first, you got to make a decision on where they play it. It was an aggressive play and we needed an aggressive play.”
Seattle’s four-run outburst started innocently on J.P. Crawford’s single. Mitch Haniger walked and Ty France was hit by a pitch for the 16th time this season, tied for the most in the American League.
Seager jumped on the first pitch from Irvin (7-9), hitting it into right field to score Crawford and Haniger. Luis Torrens followed with a hard grounder to score France, and Tom Murphy capped the rally when his blooper to center dropped despite Ramon Laureano’s diving attempt.
Matt Olson hit his 27th homer and Stephen Piscotty had an RBI double for the A's.
GONE TOO SOON
Irvin’s four-inning start was his shortest of the season. He allowed five hits and four runs and struck out three.
Irvin pitched at least five innings in each of his previous nine starts, and the last time he failed to make it through five came on May 25 against Seattle. That day, Irvin allowed 10 hits and four runs in a 4-3 loss, and afterward said, “A team like that shouldn’t be putting up 10 hits against me or anyone.”
"They know how to put damage and score runners when they’re in position to score," Irvin said Sunday. “I really just didn’t have it in that third inning. It was just embarrassing.”
SEE YOU AGAIN
The A’s and Mariners meet for a two-game series in Oakland in late August. That’s the only matchup between the division foes until late September when they play seven times in a 10-game period — four in Oakland and three in Seattle.
Seattle recalled RHP Ryan Weber from Triple-A Tacoma for additional depth in the bullpen. Weber was claimed off waivers by Seattle after being designated for assignment by Milwaukee earlier this month.
Seattle optioned IF Donovan Walton to clear the roster spot.
Athletics: After an off day, Oakland will open a two-game series in San Diego on Tuesday. RHP James Kaprielian (5-3, 2.65 ERA) will start the opener for the A’s. Kaprielian has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his 12 starts.
Mariners: RHP Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80) makes his first start as Seattle opens an important series against Houston on Monday night. McCaughan threw five innings of relief, allowing only one run in his major league debut last Wednesday vs. Colorado.
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