OAKLAND -- Kyle Seager belted a three-run home run in the first inning Wednesday, giving the Mariners a lead they wouldn't relinquish in a 6-3 victory over the A's that also featured a pair of loud homers from Nelson Cruz.
The win, which capped a two-game series victory at the Coliseum, also gave Seattle a one-game lead for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"I'm really happy with our ballclub and where we're at right now," Mariners manager Scott Servais said after Seattle finished its nine-game road trip with a 6-3 record. "The team has really come together, and if we get enough pitching, our offense is rolling pretty good right now."
Seattle's hefty supply of power backed a three-run outing by veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who was denied the win after being pulled with one out in the fifth inning following Jed Lowrie's RBI double. Gallardo also surrendered solo homers to Matt Joyce and Khris Davis. Emilio Pagan picked up his first Major League win in relief of Gallardo, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
"Gallardo struggled command-wise early today, high pitch count," Servais said. "Emilio Pagan, again, does what he does. He comes in and throws strikes, has a nice little breaking ball. [He] settled the game down for us, and we had enough pitching to shut it down at the end."
"Just three not executed pitches, and it cost me today," Cotton said. "Cost the team a victory. Every game is a learning experience to get better every time I go out. I'm just going to take today's start and learn from it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Boomstick: Cruz's first home run, a two-run shot in the third inning, increased Seattle's lead to 5-1, traveling 450 feet with an exit velocity of 115.1 mph, per Statcast™. It's the Mariners' second-hardest-hit homer since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. Cruz, who also owns the hardest-hit homer by a Seattle player in that span, nearly outdid himself in the fifth, sending his second home run a Statcast-estimated 436 feet to center field at 112.4 mph. Cruz has two multi-homer games this year and 23 in his career.
"I don't know if Nelson Cruz can hit two harder balls than he hit today," Servais said.
Seager added, "That's probably the loudest ball I've heard hit on a field."
Robbed: Facing a four-run deficit, the A's came out swinging in the fifth inning and appeared well on their way to making a sizeable dent in Seattle's lead when Joyce singled and Marcus Semien smacked the next pitch from Gallardo toward left field. But a running Ben Gamel tracked it down, making a remarkable catch while crashing into the wall and stealing away an extra-base hit from Semien. Lowrie's ensuing double brought in Oakland's lone run of the frame.
"That's a big catch," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "There were some subtle plays that kept us down a little bit. Our bats weren't great in the middle of the game, but if one of those breaks goes one way or the other, now we're looking at a different ballgame and more pressure on the pitcher on the mound. But they didn't, so it was a great play."
"I think once we were one-half game behind in the Wild Card, I think everybody just put the switch on. Every little piece that we needed early in the year is clicking right now. I think the win we got yesterday was remarkable, and as a player you get the confidence that when you're down by that much against bullpens like they have, to be able to come back was nice." -- Cruz, on team's recent success
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Cruz's three RBis on the day gave him 22 against the A's this season, setting a Mariners record for most RBIs opposite the A's in a single season. The previous high was 19, achieved by Darnell Coles (1989), Edgar Martinez (2001) and Adrian Beltre ('07). Six games between the two clubs remain this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Left-hander James Paxton (12-3, 2.70 ERA) will look to win his eighth consecutive start at 7:10 p.m. PT Thursday when the Mariners begin a four-game home series against the Angels. The left-hander hasn't lost since June 27, and he has allowed eight runs in 45 1/3 innings across his seven-game winning streak.
A's: The A's will send right-hander Chris Smith to the mound for Thursday's four-game series opener against the Orioles, with first pitch at the Coliseum scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT. Smith has a 4.82 ERA in six appearances, five of them starts, since his July promotion.