Struggling Mike Zunino delivered the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, and Seattle held on for a 3-2 victory over the Athletics on Thursday night, keeping the Mariners on the edge of the American League wild-card chase.
Seattle is two games behind Baltimore and Toronto with three games to play. The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays 4-0 to pull even atop the wild-card race. Detroit, which was rained out against Cleveland, is a half-game ahead of the Mariners.
Zunino, hitting .139 over his last 25 games, opened the seventh with his 12th home run, sending a 2-2 pitch from Liam Hendriks (0-4) deep over the wall in left.
Seattle added a run in the eighth on a two-out single by Leonys Martin, a walk to Zunino and Ketel Marte’s RBI single.
Steve Cishek (4-6) came on to stifle an Oakland threat in the seventh with an inning-ending double play and added a perfect eighth. Rookie Edwin Diaz notched his 18th save, despite allowing a run and three hits in the ninth.
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on three consecutive singles before running themselves out of the inning. Kyle Seager reached on an infield single when Kendall Graveman couldn’t find the handle on his two-out dribbler along the first-base line. Adam Lind followed with a single to center. Martin singled through the right side, scoring Seager from second. Martin continued for second, but was caught in a rundown. Lind was thrown out at home trying to score on the play.
Chad Pinder brought Oakland even in the sixth with his first career home run, a leadoff shot to left for the only run off starter Ariel Miranda.
Oakland had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh, but failed to score. Danny Valencia singled to open the inning, but was forced at second on Brett Eibner’s fielder’s choice groundout to short. Yonder Alonso then singled Eibner to third. Cishek relieved and enticed pinch-hitter Max Muncy into a ending double-play grounder.
A’s: Right-hander Raul Alcantara (1-2, 5.75 ERA) makes his fifth career start since being called up from Triple-A Nashville on Sept. 5. He faced Seattle on Sept. 11, giving up two runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings without a decision.
Mariners: Right-hander Taijaun Walker’s (7-11, 4.35 ERA) up-and-down season seems to be back on the upswing. Walker was 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four April starts, then went 0-5 in May and eventually was sent to Triple-A. He’s 3-1 in his last four starts.