SEATTLE - Nick Franklin has been in the major leagues for less than a month but he's already starting to become one of the Seattle Mariners' most-trusted hitters in crucial situations.
Franklin delivered a two-run single off Oakland reliever Ryan Cook in the eighth inning to lift the Mariners to a 7-5 win over the A's on Saturday night.
After a three-run home run from Raul Ibanez tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh inning, Brendan Ryan led off the eighth with a single off Cook (1-1) and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Endy Chavez reached with a bunt single to put runners at the corners and took second on indifference.
Franklin then came through with the single to left field to score Ryan and Chavez to give the Mariners the lead. His three hits and three RBI matched career-highs and it was the first game-winning hit of his career.
"He likes being up in those situations," manager Eric Wedge said. "I just like the way he plays so aggressively. He does it offensively. He does it defensively. He does it on the basepaths. I just think you're a better baseball player when you play with no fear and that's what we've seen from him so far."
Yoervis Medina (2-2) worked 2 1-3 innings scoreless to close out the game.
With the three hits against Oakland, Franklin's average is up to .295 with seven doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI in 25 games. His ability to hit in critical spots is something his teammates are already noticing as well.
"For him to be able to stay calm in those situations and for him to be able to stay disciplined like that is huge," Ibanez said. "He's a really heads-up player. He plays very, very mature.
"He's been very impressive."
Franklin said he just tries to stay relaxed and not allow the pressure of the moment to get to him.
"I'm just trying to put something in play, give ourselves a chance to score anything," Franklin said. "It's better to put the ball in play than to have a swing and a miss trying to hit a long ball."
In his first game back from the disabled list, Franklin Gutierrez homered to right-centre field in his first at-bat to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Following walks by Justin Smoak and Henry Blanco, Franklin came through with a two-out single to score Smoak and extend the lead to 2-0.
Oakland got a run back in the third, on Eric Sogard's sacrifice fly.
The Mariners chased A's starter Dan Straily from the game in the fourth inning. Straily lasted 3 1-3 innings — the shortest outing of his career — while allowing six hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out five.
"He just didn't have a good release point today," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He was teetering from the beginning: it was what, six hits and three walks in just over three inning. He just had a rough start."
Jed Lowrie's bases-loaded single scored a pair to give the A's a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
Oakland added on in the seventh inning. Lowrie doubled and the Mariners elected to intentionally walk Yoenis Cespedes. After a Brandon Moss struck out, Medina relieved and Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick each singled in a run to give the A's a 5-2 cushion.
The lead didn't last long as Seattle rallied in bottom half of the inning. Ibanez delivered a three-run home run into the right field seats off Jerry Blevins to knot the game at 5-5.
Aaron Harang went five innings allowing six hits and three runs for the Mariners. He walked two and struck out three.
Notes: Gutierrez went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored in his first game since being activated from the 60-day disabled list. The team placed OF Mike Morse on the 15-day DL with a strained right quad and designated OF Eric Thames to make room for Gutierrez on the 40-man roster. ... Ibanez has just 10 hits this season off left-handed pitchers but five have been home runs. He's batting .196 with five home runs and 11 RBI against lefties on the year. ... Mariners 3B Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the seventh inning. ... In 11 games against Seattle this season, Lowrie is batting .436 with two home runs and 10 RBI. ...Melvin said catcher John Jaso may be out until after the team's off-day on Monday with a left hand abrasion. "It's still bothering him so we'll see how he is tomorrow. There's a distinct chance we may to go through the off-day."