Seattle Mariners

Mariners turn tables on Athletics, rally for 6-5 victory behind suddenly solid bullpen

The Mariners' Robinson Cano slides safely under the tag of Oakland shortstop Brett Lawrie (15) for a double in the seventh inning that made Cano the first player in MLB history to record 11 consecutive 30-double seasons to open a career.
The Mariners' Robinson Cano slides safely under the tag of Oakland shortstop Brett Lawrie (15) for a double in the seventh inning that made Cano the first player in MLB history to record 11 consecutive 30-double seasons to open a career. Seattle Times

So, OK, the Seattle Mariners aren’t the only club capable of blowing a five-run lead against a struggling opponent. Oakland can do it, too.

The Mariners overcame another rocky start by rookie left-hander Mike Montgomery by rallying Tuesday night for a 6-5 victory over the Athletics at Safeco Field.

Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison, on his 28th birthday, hit home runs, but it was a two-run, two-out single by Austin Jackson that provided the tying and go-ahead runs.

The key, though, was a stout effort by a beleaguered bullpen, which supplied 7 2/3 scoreless innings after Montgomery’s early exit. Edgar Olmos started the shutdown with 3 2/3 innings.

Logan Kensing and Carson Smith followed before once-again closer Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth inning for his fourth save. Olmos (1-0) got his first career victory.

“About the seventh,” Olmos said, “I was like, ‘Wait…oh…oh….’ It’s set in but … maybe not quite (completely) yet. Maybe when I talk to my parents.”

This was also payback. The Mariners built a 5-0 lead Monday for Hisashi Iwakuma before the Athletics stormed back for an 11-5 victory in the series opener.

Robinson Cano reached a personal milestone with a one-out double in the seventh inning by becoming the first player in history to reach 30 in each of his first 11 seasons.

“I feel blessed,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. A lot of help from family and friends, people who support you through your career.

“To be able to accomplish that in the first 11 years, you have to blessed.”

Cano is also just sixth player in history to have 30 doubles in 11 straight seasons at any point in his career. The last player to do it was Stan Musial, whom completed a 13-year run in 1958.

Smith closed out the seventh inning behind Kensing but found problems in the eighth. Billy Burns grounded a one-out single up the middle and, with two outs, stole second and went to third on Mike Zunino’s throwing error.

Brett Lawrie walked on four pitches, which put the go-ahead run on base, but Smith struck out Danny Valencia on three pitches. Wilhelmsen pitched around a two-out double in the ninth.

Now, regarding Montgomery: He was 4-2 with a 1.62 ERA through seven career starter after working 5 2/3 innings on July 5 in a 2-1 victory at Oakland.

And since: He is 0-4 with an 8.33 ERA in nine starts. The Mariners were winless in his previous eight starts before Tuesday’s comeback.

“I’m just not commanding the ball the way I want,” Montgomery said. “If you don’t do that, you’re going to get beat. It’s just about getting back to commanding the ball.”

Manager Lloyd McClendon was non-committal when asked whether Montgomery would make his next scheduled start.

“I’m concerned,” he said. “I don’t want to make quick decisions tonight. We’ll think about it. Get with the staff, talk about it and figure out what we’re going to do.”

Montgomery’s struggles began with his first pitch, which Burns served into center field for a single. Burns went to second on Mark Canha’s grounder to third and scored on Josh Phegley’s two-out single.

Oakland took command in a four-run second.

Billy Butler and Josh Reddick opened the inning with doubles. After Reddick went to third on a wild pitch, Marcus Semien turned around a 1-2 fastball for a two-run homer.

Still, the Athletics kept coming.

Singles by Burns and Lawrie put runners at first and second with one out and finished Montgomery.

Olmos yielded a sacrifice fly to Valencia, which made it 5-0, before ending the inning. Montgomery’s final line: 1 1/3 innings, seven hits, five runs (all earned), one walk and no strikeouts.

“They’re just eliminating everything (else) and waiting for the fastball,” Montgomery said, “and I’m giving it to them in spots where they want to hit it.”

The Mariners began their comeback when Cruz led off the fourth inning with a homer to center against Oakland starter Jesse Chavez. It also extended Cruz’s career-best streak of reaching base safely to 35 games.

Cruz’s blast was his 38th homer of the season and 11th in August — one shy of Ken Griffey Jr.’s franchise record of 12 August homers in 1997.

Chavez (7-13) retired the next two hitters, but Jackson lined a double over Burns’ head in center, and Morrison turned on a fastball for a drive to right that stayed just fair for a two-run shot.

“Homers are cool,” Morrison said, “and it just so happened that it happened on my birthday. Even cooler. I was hoping, I was praying, it would stay fair. It’s cool that it did.”

The Mariners were back to within 5-3 — and they took the lead with a three-run sixth that knocked out Chavez.

Zunino started the inning with a single and reached third as Chavez retired the next two hitters. After Cruz walked, Cano hit a chopper that tipped off Chavez’s glove for an RBI single.

A walk to Seth Smith loaded the bases before Jackson grounded a two-run single up the middle for a 6-5 lead.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

WEDNESDAY: Oakland (RHP Chris Bassitt: 1-5, 2.48 ERA) at Seattle (RHP Felix Hernandez: 14-8, 3.74), 12:40 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM

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