MLB

Athletics beat Mariners to gain ground in AL West

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Associated Press
9/29/2012 2:28:33 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland manager Bob Melvin turned off the Angels-Rangers game before taking the field with his Athletics. He swears he's no scoreboard watcher in September -- what's the point?

Oakland has control of its own playoff hopes in the season's final week, anyway.

"It's tunnel vision, if you will," outfielder Jonny Gomes said of his skipper's stand. "I 100 per cent buy it."

Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer, Coco Crisp had a leadoff shot and the A's gained ground on the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West with an 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

Oakland trails the two-time defending AL champions by three games with five to play. The Rangers lost 7-4 at home to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, and Texas finishes the season with three games in Oakland starting Monday.

Josh Donaldson had a two-run single in a four-run seventh and A.J. Griffin (7-1) received ample support as the A's stayed two games ahead of the Angels in the race for the second wild card. Tampa Bay fell three games back after losing to the Chicago White Sox.

Oakland (89-68) has a magic number of four to clinch the club's first playoff berth since being swept by the Tigers in the 2006 AL championship series.

Eventually, Melvin heard chatter in the dugout as the other scores were posted on the outfield wall.

"I just don't like the emotional rollercoaster," Melvin said.

The A's won six months to the day after these clubs kicked off the 2012 schedule in Tokyo -- and Oakland's opening-day starter, Brandon McCarthy, was back with the team just more than three weeks after undergoing brain surgery following a line drive off the bat of the Angels' Erick Aybar that struck him on the right side of the head.

McCarthy plans to stick around through the season's last homestand, and it's primed to be quite a final five games.

Melvin waited to post a lineup until after watching Crisp go through pregame activities considering the leadoff man had missed nine straight starts and 10 of 11 because of an eye infection.

Apparently, he saw the ball just fine when he sent a 3-2 pitch from starter Blake Beavan (10-11) over the right-field wall for his 11th home run. It was Crisp's fourth leadoff shot this year and the eighth of his career.

Crisp finished 3 for 5 and also made a perfect slide to score an insurance run in the fifth on a passed ball. He is still dealing with blurry vision in both eyes and some double vision but wants to do anything he can to help get the A's into the playoffs.

"More than I was expecting," said Crisp, who arrived in time for batting practice after a doctor's appointment.

Yoenis Cespedes drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh and made a diving catch on a liner to left-centre in the eighth to rob Jesus Montero of a hit.

Trayvon Robinson followed Crisp's homer with a tying drive in the second, then Drew responded with his fifth homer since joining the A's from Arizona on Aug. 20 and seventh overall.

Michael Saunders also homered for Seattle, which snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday in Anaheim but didn't do enough in this one for Beavan.

"Beavan was off tonight," manager Eric Wedge said. "There were a lot of hard outs too, he was living on the edge there. Then later we broke down defensively."

Griffin, one of five rookies in the rotation, allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two. Griffin was winless in his previous two starts after winning his first six decisions.

Now, Griffin is set up to pitch the regular-season finale against the Rangers in what could have huge post-season implications.

"That's the fun part of the business, you get to pitch in games that matter, especially this time of year," he said.

Seattle centre fielder Franklin Gutierrez was held out of the lineup a day after crashing into the wall to make a catch against the Angels. He banged his wrist, shoulder and head on the play, but said he was fine Friday.

"I don't have anything, just a little stiff in my neck. It's nothing major," said Gutierrez, who hopes to play Saturday. "I hit it pretty good, the wall."

Wedge said he expects Gutierrez to play the final five games of the season.

NOTES: Mariners ace Felix Hernandez said he plans to play for Venezuela in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. A spring program for him will be determined after the season. ... The A's clinched the season series (10-7) after losing last year's season series 10-9. ... A's LHP Brett Anderson, who strained his right oblique after a strong return from last year's Tommy John surgery, could still be back if the team makes the playoffs. ... Gomes, who grew up in nearby Petaluma and assisted the Little League World Series squad from his hometown, received the 2012 Dave Stewart Community Service Award. "I think it should be in the job description or should be in the title of being a professional athlete," Gomes said. "I think you have so many avenues, once you get to the top, to be able to help people out." ... Seattle has 12 errors in its last 13 games, going 4-9. ... RHP Dan Straily (2-1) pitches Saturday for the A's against LHP Jason Vargas (14-11).

Stephen Drew (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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