OAKLAND -- The Mariners powered their way back into the win column Saturday night, getting home runs from Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano in a 4-3 victory over the A's to even their three-game set at the Coliseum.
Seth Smith chipped in with an RBI single as part of a three-run fifth inning that would put the Mariners on top for good, as they clinched their seventh win in their last eight games while improving to 15-8 in their last 23 games.
Hisashi Iwakuma got the win, allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander scattered nine hits, including a solo home run in the sixth inning to Khris Davis, who has a career-high 29 on the season. His previous high was 27, set with the Brewers last year.
"It's been impressive," A's catcher Stephen Vogt said. "If you had told me he was going to shatter his career-high in homers moving from Milwaukee to Oakland, I would have laughed in your face. He's making the Coliseum look like a hitter's park. You're always making sure you're watching when he's at the plate."
Seattle manager Scott Servais said following the game that Iwakuma was dealing with neck stiffness. As of noon on Saturday, the team wasn't sure whether the righty would be healthy enough to pitch.
"It kind of stiffened up yesterday and I was a little worried yesterday," Iwakuma said through an interpreter. "But it loosened up today. I was happy that I got five-plus innings."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Seattle's bullpen blitz: Seattle's bullpen has been at the center of its recent surge, allowing just one earned run over its last 27 1/3 innings, and it was electric again Saturday night. Mariners relievers held Oakland scoreless over their final 3 2/3 innings. Arquimedes Caminero struck Davis out on a 100.3 mph fastball to strand Coco Crisp at third and end the seventh, and Tom Wilhelmsen and Edwin Diaz combined to pitch a perfect eighth and ninth, respectively.
"Bullpen was outstanding," Servais said. "That was the story of the game. They shut them down and were very, very good. And they needed to be tonight, there wasn't much room for error." More >
Billy ball: Making just his 23rd start against a right-hander this season, Billy Butler collected hits in each of his first three at-bats and scored twice for the A's, once in the second on Crisp's RBI single and again in the sixth when he doubled and hustled home on Jake Smolinski's ensuing base hit. Butler has enjoyed seven multi-hit games over his last 11 contests, batting .474 in that span.
"He's been swinging it good, that's why I'm trying to get him in there against as many righties as I can," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's squaring it up, using the whole field, hitting it hard, has a lot of confidence. His batting practices are good. He's done a nice job."
Two-pitch switch: A's starter Kendall Graveman's night shifted dramatically over the span of just two pitches in the fifth inning. Smith lined a Graveman sinker to left field with two outs, plating Ketel Marte after Davis didn't field it cleanly. Cano followed with a two-run homer to center off a Graveman cutter that traveled 426 feet, according to Statcast™ data, making it 4-1.
"It's a matter of you being ready and taking advantage when this kind of guy gets it over the plate," Cano said.
Missed opportunities: The A's put runners at the corners with one out in the first inning but were unable to take advantage of the early opportunity, failing to score and setting the tone for a night that would bring about more of the same missed chances. They finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven baserunners in all.
"Probably the greatest catch of Adam Lind's life. I don't know, he's been locked in on the Olympics and his athleticism is starting to come out," -- Servais said of Lind's catch in foul ground in the ninth inning
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners:Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 4.71) starts in the series finale Sunday at the Coliseum, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT. LeBlanc's last outing was Tuesday, when the lefty allowed four runs on 10 hits to the Tigers in five innings of an eventual 6-5 Mariners win in 15 innings. Seattle is 6-1 in LeBlanc's starts this year.
A's: Right-hander Zach Neal gets another Sunday, this time against Seattle in the 1:05 p.m. PT series finale at the Coliseum. Neal has mostly pitched out of the bullpen during his four stints with the A's this season but will be making his second straight start for an injury-ridden rotation, having limited the Orioles to one run in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.