The Mariners are suddenly playing their best ball of the season when it’s probably too late to salvage it. With Hisashi Iwakuma nearly flawless over 6.1 innings, coupled with a three-run burst in the fifth, the Mariners completed a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics Sunday with a 3-2 victory at O.co Coliseum (box). The Mariners (66-71), who have won a season-high five consecutive games, went 7-3 on a 10-game road trip, but remain six back of the second wild card with 25 to play.
After Logan Morrison was inexplicably thrown out at third in the fifth, the Mariners tallied three runs off Oakland rookie starter Sean Nolin, scoring on Ketel Marte’s RBI single, Kyle Seager’s sacrifice fly and Nolin’s wild pitch. The Mariners allowed Oakland single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but Tom Wilhelmsen recorded a five-out save — his 10th — as Seattle swept the A’s for the second time this season.
The Mariners missed out on another run in the fifth due to an apparent gaffe by substitute third base coach Chris Woodward. After Morrison opened with a single, he attempted to take third on Brad Miller’s single, but was thrown out when he failed to slide into the bag. Woodward, normally the first base coach, was at third because Rich Donnelly was removed with an upset stomach. Woodward failed to signal Morrison to slide, an omission that clearly upset manager Lloyd McClendon, who said, “I wish I would have left the game with Donnelly. We should have lost. I’m too emotional to talk about it.” McClendon refused to elaborate on what he meant by that.
Rookie Shawn O’Malley went 1-for-2 with a walk and has reached base in 11 of his 12 plate appearances since being called up from AAA Tacoma. O’Malley also made a superb running catch in the seventh to get the Mariners out of the inning and preserve a 3-1 lead.
Mark Trumbo’s ninth-inning double extended his hitting streak to eight games. Brad Miller had Seattle’s only multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Iwakuma (7-3, 4.03) allowed one run — Billy Butler’s 10th home run — on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk. He had a three-hit shutout going until Butler’s long ball and ended up throwing 79 pitches, 52 for strikes, good enough for his seventh win against three losses.
Wilhelmsen recorded two huge outs in the eighth when the Athletics had a pair of runners in scoring position. He has 10 saves and has not allowed a run in his last 11.1 innings.
“Wilhelmsen was as gutsy as I’ve seen him in the two years I’ve been here, especially for a guy who needs some rest. Iwakuma did a nice job. He probably hit a little bit of a wall, but was breezing pretty good. We’re playing extremely hard right now and getting timely hitting, but we’ve got a long way to go” — McClendon.
The Mariners have won five in a row for the first time since Sept. 2-6, 2014, and six of the last 10 series played . . . The Mariners failed to homer for the first time in 14 contests . . . The Mariners are 12-4 against the Athletics this season . . . Nelson Cruz was not in Seattle’s lineup for the third consecutive game due to a strained right quad muscle. The Mariners expect that Cruz will be available Monday when they host the Rangers at Safeco Field . . . The Mariners have not announced a starter for Wednesday’s game. Vidal Nuno, who worked in relief Sunday, is a possibility for a spot start and would take the place of Edgar Olmos, battered in 1.1 innings in his last start.
The Mariners return to Safeco Field at 3:40 p.m. Monday to begin a four-game set with the Texas Rangers. LHP Roenis Elias (4-7, 4.35) will work for Seattle opposite RHP Yovani Gallardo (11-9, 3.27).