Contra Costa Times
OAKLAND, Calif. – Athletics rookie pitcher Sonny Gray made only one mistake in his seven strong innings on the mound Tuesday night.
Once he left, the mistakes piled up for Oakland. Yoenis Cespedes had a ball pop out of his glove to set the tone for a sloppy eighth inning as the Seattle Mariners rallied for a 7-4 win in front of 13,401 at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Athletics scored four runs in a span of their first five batters of the game and they still led 4-2 entering the eighth. But the first seven Mariners reached during a five-run eighth-inning rally as Oakland lost a game in the American League West standings to the victorious Texas Rangers.
The bullpen wasted a great outing by Gray, who allowed two runs on two hits and retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced in his third major-league start.
Sean Doolittle started the eighth trying to protect the lead for Gray, but left without retiring a batter. He gave up a leadoff single, then allowed a fly ball to left field by Henry Blanco. Cespedes had to travel a ways, but got to the ball in time only to see it bounce right out of his glove. The play was initially ruled a double but the call was going to be reviewed after the game by the official scorer.
Back-to-back singles by Brad Miller and Nick Franklin tied the game and spoiled Gray’s shot at his second major league win.
Ryan Cook relieved Doolittle and allowed the go-ahead run to score on a wild pitch. Another run scored when Franklin slid under the tag of Derek Norris on a grounder to second. Athletics manager Bob Melvin came out to argue the close call, but replays appeared to show the call was correct.
Cook finally got the first out of the disastrous inning when he struck out Justin Smoak, the eighth batter of the inning. But Cook was pulled from the game in the middle of facing the next batter when he threw his second run-scoring wild pitch. Jesse Chavez escaped the inning with no further damage.
The Athletics and Gray had the benefit of a nice early cushion.
Just five batters into Seattle starter Joe Saunders’ night, the Athletics hit two home runs and had a 4-0 lead.
Jed Lowrie led off with a triple and scored on a Norris single. Josh Donaldson followed with his 18th home run of the year and two batters later, Nate Freiman homered for the four-run cushion.
There was action in the Mariners bullpen as Chris Young walked, but Seattle caught a break when Saunders picked Young off. That free out may have prevented the Athletics from inflicting further damage in the inning because Josh Reddick walked and Alberto Callaspo singled before Saunders finally wiggled out of the jam.
The Athletics put the leadoff hitter on base each of the next three innings and had 10 hits in six innings against Saunders. But three double plays helped the left-hander keep the Mariners within striking distance.
Gray allowed a two-run homer to Franklin in the third inning, but didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way. He gave up just two hits and struck out seven.
Coco Crisp was out of the lineup against Saunders. Crisp is still bothered by the left wrist injury that kept him out of the starting lineup for seven games, with the pain mostly coming as a right-handed batter. Melvin expects him to play Wednesday against Mariners’ righty Hisashi Iwakuma.
Brett Anderson is scheduled to throw 65 pitches on Thursday in a minor league rehabilitation game. If he comes through that outing healthy, Melvin said the team could be ready to activate him.
©2013 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
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