PEORIA, Ariz. — Right-hander Nathan Karns seemingly entered his start Wednesday with a slight lead over lefty James Paxton in the competition to determine the Mariners’ fifth starter.
So now what?
Karns lasted just 2 1/3 innings in a wild 13-12 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Peoria Stadium. His line showed eight hits and nine runs (seven earned) and, well…
"It’s not ideal," he agreed, "but you look at it and see what I need to do better. I didn’t feel I did too bad of a job. I’ve got to give them credit. They did a good job of putting the bat on the ball."
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It wasn’t just Karns. Oakland starter Jesse Hahn gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. The two clubs combined for 27 hits.
The Athletics (10-9-3) jumped Karns for two runs in the first inning. Marcus Semien led off with a single, went to third on Chris Coghlan’s single and scored when right fielder Seth Smith bobbled the ball.
Coghlan went to second on Smith’s error and scored Khris Davis’ single through the right side.
The Mariners (10-12-2) got those runs back and more against Jesse Hahn in the bottom of the inning. Chris Iannetta tied it with a two-run double with two outs before Smith tripled past a diving Jake Smolinski in right field.
Karns started the second with two quick outs but walked the next two hitters and surrendered game-tying single to Semien and a two-run triple to Coghlan. Oakland led 5-3.
Again the Mariners countered. Four runs this time, all with two outs, and knocking out Hahn. Kyle Seager had an RBI single, Iannetta added a two-run single and Smith followed with an RBI single for a 7-5 lead.
The Oakland third started with a throwing error by shortstop Ketel Marte, and Billy Butler followed with an RBI double. A check-swing single by Josh Phegley preceded a three-run homer from Smolinski.
"That was a change-up up," Karns said. "I had success with it against righties for most of the game. It was just one of those pitches you wish you had back."
There were a lot of those.
Oakland led 9-7.
The Mariners took an 11-9 lead on Luis Sardinas’ grand slam in the fifth inning, but the Athletics answered with four runs in the sixth against Joel Peralta and Casey Coleman. Two runs scored on bases-loaded walks.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Nori Aoki was at first base after a two-out single in the second inning. He was leaning toward second when Oakland pitcher Jesse Hahn threw to first for what should have been an easy pickoff.
Hahn’s throw ended up in the stands for an error that moved Aoki to second. The mistake extended the inning, and the Mariners went on to score four runs. Also: Hahn did not finish the inning.
PLUS: Lefty Vidal Nuno replaced an ineffective Karns and retired five of six batters over 1 2/3 innings…reliever Joaquin Benoit, pitching for the first time since March 14, worked around two singles in a scoreless fifth inning…catcher Chris Iannetta went 3-for-3 with four RBIs. His average is up to .346 (9-for-26)…closer Steve Cishek struck out the side in the eighth inning. He did give up a two-out walk on a borderline call.
MINUS: A rough 40th birthday for reliever Joel Peralta, who gave up four runs in the sixth inning while recording just one out…left fielder Nori Aoki fueled Peralta’s problems by misplaying Billy Butler long drive into an RBI double. Aoki over-ran the ball on the track, and the ball hopped over the wall…shortstop Ketel Marte had a throwing error that started Oakland’s four-run third inning.
QUOTABLE: "Tonight’s game, I’m really looking forward to it," manager Scott Servais in his pre-game briefing. "I’m curious to see Nate Karns. The last couple of innings he threw the last time out were electric.
"We liked it and, hopefully, it continues tonight."
Karns gave up two runs in the first inning, three more in the second and four in the third before getting pulled with just one out..
UP NEXT: The Mariners make the 31-mile trip around the 101 on Thursday for a 1:10 p.m. game against Colorado at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker is slotted for six innings in his fifth spring start. Colorado lists right-hander Tyler Chatwood as its starter.
The game isn’t on Root Sports Northwest but can be seen on the MLB.tv subscription service.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners