Mariners' bats awaken in win over A's

Mariners' bats awaken in win over A's

Mariners' bats awaken in win over A's
OAKLAND -- Mariners hitters apparently got the message from manager Eric Wedge, as Seattle broke out the bats in a 7-1 victory over the A's on Saturday after their skipper talked about impending changes a night earlier if things didn't improve in a hurry.

The Mariners scored their most runs in their past 15 games, doing much of the damage against standout A's rookie Jarrod Parker, while ending Oakland's five-game winning streak.

A solo home run by Casper Wells, a three-run double by Kyle Seager and a two-run double by Brendan Ryan were the big blows for a Seattle squad that has struggled to come up with key hits throughout much of the first half.

"It seemed like there was a little more energy, and we were swinging at good pitches," said Ryan, who had two of Seattle's nine hits.

Jason Vargas took advantage of the run support, improving to 8-7 with a 4.07 ERA, as he allowed seven hits and one run in his first complete game of the season and sixth of his career.

"That's always great," Vargas said of the offensive help. "When we can put up multiple-run innings, that's huge for us because our pitching staff can pitch with a lead, that's for sure. When we get on rolls like that, we need to just stay with it and not get too down on ourselves when those things don't happen."

The victory improved Wedge's mood, as well as his team's record to 36-50 heading into Sunday's final game before the All-Star break.

"That was just a good, crisp ballgame and the separator was the offense," said Wedge. "Obviously Jason set the tone and pitched a great ballgame, but everything gets freed up when you score a few runs, especially early. Everybody plays a little more loose and confident, and that's what you saw tonight."

The Mariners jumped out quickly against Parker, who had given up two or fewer earned runs in 11 of his 13 starts this season.

They picked up an unearned run in the first when John Jaso's line-drive single to center was misplayed on a shoe-string attempt by Coco Crisp, with Michael Saunders scoring from first on the two-base error.

After Josh Reddick homered off of Vargas to tie the game at 1-1, Seattle came right back with a two-run double by Ryan in the second. Ryan's shot down the left-field line came after Wells singled and Justin Smoak doubled to right, just his fifth of the season.

After a tough start this season, Ryan has quietly been turning things around offensively, hitting .302 over the past 18 games. And he turned in another stunning defensive play with a backhand stab and long throw from short left field to nail Jonny Gomes in the second.

Seager then delivered his bases-loaded double in the fifth to give Seattle a 7-1 lead. The young third baseman increased his team RBI lead to 52, including an AL-leading 29 with two outs.

"Kyle got an 0-2 curveball and didn't miss it," said Ryan. "Just another big swing from him, something we're coming to expect."

Other than Reddick's home run, Vargas kept Oakland in check all night. He's now given up a Major League-high 23 home runs in 19 starts, including 18 in his past 10 outings, but the A's couldn't touch him after the third inning. At one point, he mowed down 13 straight batters.

"He had a good changeup going, and he pitches to both sides of the plate very well," said A's catcher Kurt Suzuki. "He's not going to throw 95 or 96 [mph], but he sure knows how to pitch. He kept us off balance all night."

Seattle's defense was sharp as well, as the four double-play grounders induced by Vargas tied a franchise record for one pitcher in a nine-inning game.

"We scored seven runs, we pitched well and when you do that, everything is going to click," said Vargas. "We made some great defensive plays. Brendan and Seager over there, it was a pretty good night. They saved me some pitches, that's for sure."

Ichiro Suzuki, moved to No. 2 in the batting order for the first time in his career, snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a fifth-inning single, and finished 2-for-5.

"With Ichiro, we've proven that when we've done different things with him, he has responded," Wedge said. "That's something we'll continue to do, whether it's a day off here or there or what. We're just looking for signs that these guys are heading the right direction.

"He's in a different place in his career. He's fighting through it. I know he's hard on himself, so we just have to support him and keep helping him find ways to contribute. And tonight he did. Maybe the two-hole is better for him. It allows him to open up holes a little more, it's more of a situational spot in the order. So we'll see."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.