Playing to avoid last place in the American League West, the Mariners (38-44) held on for a taut 2-1 win Sunday over the Athletics at O.co Coliseum (box score). The victory salvaged a 2-2 split against Oakland (38-47) in a series featuring the two bottom-feeding teams in the division.
OF Seth Smith, the Mariners’ most consistent hitter, had a two-out, two-run single that gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead and chased emergency starter RHP Chris Bassitt in the sixth. The rally started with two outs when 2B Robinson Cano was hit on the ankle, then RF Nelson Cruz doubled to put runners on second and third.
A day after being shut out for the second time this series, the Mariners were again listless offensively — except for Smith’s heroics. They finished with five hits, but hey, at least they improved their batting average with runners in scoring position.
They went 1-for-1.
After throwing shutouts his past two starts and earning a spot in the rotation, LHP Mike Montgomery (4-2, 1.62 ERA) took a slight step back but still picked up his third consecutive win.
Montgomery allowed one run on six hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. He served up a solo homer to Sam Fuld in the third, ending his scoreless streak at 20 innings, but kept the Mariners in the game.
Reliever Mark Lowe worked a scoreless 1.1 innings, LHP Joe Beimel worked a perfect eighth and Fernando Rodney, back in the closer role, allowed a two-out single and walk in the ninth before getting Mark Canha to ground out to pick up his 16th save in 19 chances.
Manager Lloyd “McClendon on Smith’s single: “It was huge. He was very determined. I thought the guy threw some pretty nasty pitches to him. But he stayed in there and really battled and found a hole.”
OF James Jones batted leadoff Sunday, going 0-for-4, while 3B Kyle Seager moved up to second and notched a hit in four at-bats. . . The Mariners finished 5-4 on the road trip to improve to 21-21 on the road. They are 17-23 at Safeco Field . . . Lowe has a 0.72 ERA in 25 innings this season . . . LF Dustin Ackley hit the ball hard three times and went 2-for-3, pushing his batting average to .206.
The Mariners start a seven-game homestand Monday that will bring them to the All-Star break, beginning with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 6.61 ERA) Monday makes his first big-league start since April 20 after spending the past few months on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle. The Tigers counter with RHP Alfredo Simon (7-5, 3.94 ERA), who has a 11.05 ERA in his past three starts after pitching like an All-Star the first few months of the season.