SEATTLE -- The Mariners pushed it to the 10th inning of their 161st game of the season, but there will be no postseason in the Pacific Northwest for a 15th straight year after the A's pulled out a taut, 9-8 thriller Saturday night at Safeco Field.
"[You wish] it could have been a movie so we could end in the way we wanted," said Cruz, whose game-tying blast in the seventh sent Safeco Field's fans into a frenzy as the Mariners battled from behind three times before falling short in the end. "It looked like that for a few weeks. Everything was going the right way. I guess God had another way.
"Hopefully this prepares us for next year," Cruz added after the Mariners won 16 of their last 23 games, tied for the best record in the Majors in that span. "Everybody had a taste of what it's like to be in a playoff atmosphere because it was like that for like a week. Just a great run. Even myself, I've played a lot of games and this was an incredible run."
Khris Davis clubbed his 42nd homer of the season and Marcus Semien and Wendle each tallied four hits as the A's won for just the second time in their past 12 games. The Mariners had the tying run at third in the bottom of the 10th, but Ryan Madson retired Kyle Seager on a fly ball to center to end the four-hour, one-minute battle.
Seattle's loss, coupled with Toronto's 4-3 victory at Boston, puts the Mariners a game out of a Wild Card tiebreaker no matter what happens in Sunday's season finales. Baltimore and Toronto are tied for the two Wild Card spots at 88-73, with the Tigers 1 1/2 games back at 86-74 and Seattle now eliminated at 86-75.
Hisashi Iwakuma has been the Mariners' most-consistent starter, but the 35-year-old right-hander surrendered nine hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings as the A's jumped to a 5-2 lead. Seattle's late rallies got Iwakuma off the hook as he finished his season 16-12 with a 4.12 ERA, but the short outing put pressure on a tired bullpen and Diaz wound up taking the loss after pitching the final 2 1/3 frames.
"Coming down to this game and losing it and not being able to pitch my game is very frustrating and disappointing," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "That's all I can say."
Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and four runs (three earned), the first time he's given up more than one earned run in his first five Major League starts. The 24-year-old took a no-decision and closed out his campaign 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cano crushes another: Cano continued his outstanding season with his 39th home run, a two-run blast in the fifth that cut Oakland's lead to 5-4. Cano launched a 2-0 fastball from Cotton into the center-field seats on a shot projected at 415 feet by Statcast™. With six homers in his past six games, Cano is in rare territory. Only two other AL second basemen have ever hit 39 or more home runs in a season -- the Twins' Brian Dozier with 42 this year and the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano with 39 in 2002.
A's bats awake: A stagnant Oakland offense came to life in the third inning, momentarily silencing the Mariners' faithful with four runs courtesy of six hits, including back-to-back RBI doubles from Davis and Alonso. This, after they came up with just three runs total in the first two games of this series. Davis' seventh-inning home run, No. 42, ties him with Mark McGwire (1992) and Jose Canseco (1988) for the sixth best single-season total in Oakland history.
Cruz lights up Safeco: The Mariners' season was on life support when their big designated hitter revived things with his two-run blast to center field in the seventh off Sean Doolittle. Trailing, 7-4, Seattle got one run on Cano's RBI single and Cruz then followed with his 43rd homer of the season. Cruz pumped his fist in celebration as he rounded first base and saw the ball carry over the center field wall to tie the game at 7. Cruz was 0-for-8 in his career against Doolittle prior to that at-bat.
"It was great," Cruz said of the magical moment. "You always want to do something to help your team. But it is what it is."
Double trouble: The A's relied on a pair of rookies to push them past the Mariners for good, getting doubles from Maxwell and Wendle against Diaz to grab hold of a 9-8 lead in the 10th inning. For Wendle, the big knock was his fourth hit of the night, giving him 25 total in just 27 big league games. More >
"We talked before the series that this was kind of our playoffs, and to get contributions from so many guys on the roster today, particularly some of the younger guys, this is really going to serve them well in the future knowing that they can play in this type of atmosphere," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "To be able to win a game like this is big for those guys."
"I've only been a Mariner for a year, but I have to believe that will go down as one of the most memorable games in Mariners history. Unfortunately it didn't go our way." -- Manager Scott Servais
WHAT'S NEXT A's: The A's will have rookie left-hander Sean Manaea on the mound Sunday for their final game of the 2016 season, a 12:10 p.m. PT matchup with the host Mariners at Safeco Field. Manaea, who has a 0.50 ERA in his last three starts, has faced Seattle twice this season, going 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA.
Mariners:Felix Hernandez (11-7, 3.71 ERA) closes out Seattle's regular-season finale. Hernandez is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last five outings against the A's.