Light-hitting Brendan Ryan (.192 BA), playing only because of Nick Franklin’s lacerated knee, drove in three runs in his final two at-bats to lift the Mariners to a 5-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics Wednesday at O.Com Coliseum. His two-run double in the sixth staked the Mariners to a 4-3 lead and his RBI single in the eighth provided Seattle its winning margin.
The Mariners concluded their nine-game trip through Tampa, Texas and Oakland, thought to be the toughest trek of the season, with a surprising 5-4 record after taking two of three from the Rangers and two of three from the Athletics. Seattle has won 10 of 16 games from Oakland this season, and the win Wednesday ensured that the Mariners will win the season series (three to play).
After Ryan provided the two-run cushion, Charlie Furbush and Yoervis Medina collaborated for a scoreless Oakland eighth and in the ninth, Danny Farquhar nailed the save by striking out the side. He buzzed a curve past Alberto Callaspo on a 3-and-2 pitch, whiffed Eric Sogard on a ball up in the zone, and got Steven Vogt to swing at a pitch in the dirt.
Farquhar has a save in each of the Mariners’ last nine wins and is 9-for-10 in save opportunities. He’s retired 40 of the last 47 batters he’s faced.
His performance ensured Hisashi Iwakuma’s 12th win against six losses. Iwakuma, who gave up a home run on the game’s first pitch, didn’t have his best stuff, but survived two Oakland home runs to work 7.0 innings and overcome a 3-2 deficit.
Ryan, a backburner player in the Seattle offense since Brad Miller came up, had two ineffective at-bats before his go-ahead double in the sixth.
“I definitely had a hard time with those ABs,” Ryan told Root Sports, referring to his first two plate appearances. “But I ended up with a couple of hits to help the team win. If you stick your nose in there and compete, good things can happen.
“We had a tough road trip. Tampa, Texas and Oakland are three quality teams, but we competed. We went 5-4 and, hey, that’s not bad. We’ll take that going home.”
The Mariners (59-67), are 16-15 since the All-Star break and 31-26 against the AL West. The Mariners have not had a winning record within their division since 2009. The Mariners had 59 of their 126 games decided by two or fewer runs and are 31-28 in those games.
The Mariners managed seven hits off three Oakland pitchers. Two were home runs. The long balls by Michael Morse, his 13th, and Miller, his fifth, marked Seattle’s 149th and 150th of the season. The Mariners hit 149 homers in 2012.
Coco Crisp homered off Iwakuma on the game’s first pitch. Morse answered in the second inning. Morse has hit safely in eight of his last nine games at O.com Coliseum.
Brendan Moss homered in the fourth with a solo jolt over the center field wall on a one-and-one count. The A’s added to their lead after the Moss blast when Yoenis Cespedes doubled, Josh Reddick singled and Callaspo plated Cespedes with a sacrifice fly.
Miller cut Oakland’s lead to 3-2 in the fifth, and Seattle took the lead 4-3 in the sixth when Ryan swatted a two-run double, scoring Kendrys Morales, who drew a four-pitch walk, and Dustin Ackley, issued a free pass on a 3-and-2 count.
Iwakuma worked himself into a jam in the seventh when he issued his first two walks of the game and threw a wild pitch. But with runners on the corners and two outs, Iwakuma induced Josh Donaldson to pop out, ending the threat.
Ryan gave the Mariners a 5-3 cushion in the eighth with a poke through the box that scored Justin Smoak, who had walked on four pitches.
The Mariners are off Thursday. A three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels begins Friday night at Safeco Field. Felix Hernandez (12-6, 2.47) will start for Seattle. The Angels have yet to name a starting pitcher.
NOTES: The Mariners are optimistic that Nick Franklin will return to the lineup Friday. Franklin lacerated a knee Tuesday night while sliding at the plate and received five stitches. With Franklin out, Brad Miller played second base with Brendan Ryan at short . . . Eric Wedge, out since July 22 when he suffered a mild stroke, is expected to resume his managerial duties Friday. Acting manager Robby Thompson has gone 13-15 in Wedge’s absence.