George Kottaras hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning, and the Oakland Athletics chased Felix Hernandez early in a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Hernandez (13-7) threw 96 pitches in 42/3 innings, his shortest outing since May 16 when he went 32/3 innings at Cleveland. He gave up five earned runs, 11 hits – matching his season high – walked one and struck out four.
“It was one of those games,” Hernandez said. “Every pitch was up. I fell behind a couple of times, well, not a couple, a lot of times and they just made me pay. All my pitches. It was not my day today.”
It was the second consecutive loss for the 2010 Cy Young Award winner. He had been 9-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his previous 15 starts since June 17, with five shutouts, including a perfect game Aug. 15.
“You know as a starting pitcher and you have Felix on the other side, you better be pretty good,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “That puts a little added pressure on the opposing pitcher. I know he’ll probably say it doesn’t but everyone knows who Felix is, especially the way he’s been pitching the last couple months.”
The victory broke the A’s three-game losing streak. They trail Texas in the American League West by 41/2 games. The A’s, Yankees and Orioles are all within a half-game of each other on top of the wild-card standings.
A.J. Griffin (5-0), in the 10th start of his rookie season, went 5 innings to pick up the victory. He gave up one run and six hits, walking one and striking out seven.
Cliff Pennington had a season-high four hits for the A’s.
Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk in the fourth inning and was followed by a Stephen Drew single to set up Kottaras’ three-run shot, on a 1-1 pitch from Hernandez. It was Kottaras’ fourth home run.
The A’s touched Hernandez for two runs in the fifth. Donaldson had an RBI double as Brandon Moss scored from first. Drew followed with a run-scoring single to right, ending Hernandez’s night.
The A’s pushed across an unearned run in the first. Seth Smith reached on a one-out single. With two outs, Yoenis Cespedes blooped a single to right but Eric Thames overran the ball and Smith scored on the error.
The Mariners got that run back in the second. Michael Saunders led off with a single. With two outs, Luis Jimenez walked and Saunders scored on Brandon Ryan’s single.
The Mariners started center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and left fielder Saunders, a rare game in which both played. Each was coming off an injury while Gutierrez has been out most of the season with various injuries. “We’ve essentially got two center fielders out there, which is nice,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. … Jimenez, the Mariners’ 30-year-old rookie call-up, got his first major league hit, a single in the fourth inning.
The teams play the middle contest of the three-game series at 6:10 p.m. Oakland’s Brett Anderson (3-0, 0.90 ERA) is scheduled to face Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (6-3, 3.14).