What a weird one in Oakland Tuesday night. Behind Joe Saunders, the Mariners fell into a 4-0 hole in an absurd five-batter span to open the game, did nothing for the next seven innings, and then sent 11 to the plate in a 33-minute, five-run eighth to upend the Athletics 7-4.
The A’s jumped all over Saunders, who didn’t look like he would last two innings, virtually from his first pitch, with a triple, a single and two home runs. The lefty, remarkably, settled down to throw five scoreless innings before departing, trailing 4-2. At that point, Seattle had just two hits.
In the eighth, the Mariners took advantage of an ineffective — inept might be a better term — Oakland bullpen. Seattle scored two of its five runs on wild pitches and held on for their 58th win of the season and sixth in the last eight against the Athletics.
The Mariners have won two straight, are 30-26 against the AL West and 4-4 on the nine-game road trip.
“Joe (Saunders) did a great job of battling back after the first inning,” Mariners rookie Brad Miller (2-for-5) told Root Sports. “That gave us a chance to get back in it. Then in the eighth we executed and put the pressure on them. That was a big inning for us.”
Closer Danny Farquhar came on in the ninth and posted another perfect frame, retiring Stephen Vogt with a strikeout, inducing Josh Donaldson to pop out, and whiffing Yoenis Cespedes.
The Mariners had seven hits, two by rookie Nick Franklin, who busted out of a mini-slump with a two-run homer in the third and an RBI-single in the decisive eighth that tied the score 4-4.
Franklin also scored in the eighth but had to leave the game after suffering a laceration on his knee in a slide into home that required stitches. The Mariners did not immediately disclose his availability for Wednesday’s series ender.
Saunders (10-12), who did not factor in the decision, gave up a leadoff triple to Brett Lowrie and a Derek Norris single, after which Donaldson homered to left on a 2-and-2 count. Nate Freiman followed with a homer two batters later and Oakland had a 4-0 lead.
Franklin got two runs back in the third when he blasted a two-run homer, his 11th.
With Sean Doolittle relieving in the eighth, Michael Saunders singled to center and Henry Blanco doubled. Brad Miller’s single scored Saunders and Franklin’s single plated pinch runner Brendan Ryan, knotting it at 4-4, sending Doolittle to the showers.
But the inning had just begun. Reliever Ryan Cook issued a walk (Kyle Seager), a wild pitch, gave up a fielder’s choice (Kendrys Morales), another walk (Raul Ibanez), and another wild pitch. By the time it was done, the Mariners sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs.
Brandon Maurer (4-7), who collected the win, Yoervis Medina and Farquhar collaborated on 3.0 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit.
The series finishes with a Wednesday matinee. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 2.95) is opposite RHP A.J. Griffin (10-8, 3.76). The Mariners take Thursday off and begin a three-game set with the L.A. Angels Friday at Safeco Field.
NOTES: According to multiple reports, the Mariners have given GM Jack Zduriencik a one-year contract extension. The Mariners refused comment on the story, first published in a blog by the News Tribune . . . Manager Eric Wedge, sidelined since July 22 after suffering a minor stroke, will be in uniform Friday night when the Mariners a three-game home series with the Angels.