Athletics 5, Mariners 2

The Mariners seem to keep finding ways to lose lately.

Sometimes, it’s the bullpen self-destructing. Other times, it’s
the offense struggling to provide any run support for Seattle’s
starting pitchers or the defense making costly errors.

The Mariners’ 5-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday was
just the latest example.

”We’ve got to break through this,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge
said. ”We had opportunities on and off throughout the course of
the ballgame. These guys are going to have to figure out a way to
fight through whatever they are going through mentally,
fundamentally for that matter, and finish off innings. That’s the
difference in the ballgame.”

Brett Anderson (2-1) allowed two runs, one earned, and struck
out six for the victory. Brian Fuentes came on in the eighth inning
and struck out three of his four batters in picking up the four-out
save. It was his sixth save in seven chances.

Mariners starter Doug Fister gave the team a chance to win. He
allowed just one run on four hits over six innings and left with
the game knotted at 1. It was Fister’s third quality start in his
last four outings and he has allowed three runs or less in all but
one of his starts this year. Yet Fister has just one win to show
for his efforts.

”He didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled,” Wedge said.
”He didn’t give in to it. I thought that was a gutsy performance
on his part.

”I’ve been thrilled with the way he’s thrown the ball this
year.”

Coco Crisp had three hits, scored three runs and stole a base,
and Anderson pitched seven strong innings as the A’s earned a
series split.

With the game tied at 1 in the seventh, Crisp reached on a
fielder’s choice against reliever Aaron Laffey (0-1) and moved to
third on a single by pinch-hitter Conor Jackson. Josh Willingham
followed with a double down the left-field line that Milton Bradley
misplayed in the corner and allowed Jackson to score from first to
give Oakland a 3-1 lead.

Seattle got a run back in the bottom half as Michael Saunders
led off with an infield single. Jack Wilson reached on a throwing
error by Kevin Kouzmanoff and the runners advanced as the ball
caromed into the stands. Ryan Langerhans picked up an RBI on a
groundout to first that allowed Saunders to score, but Wilson was
left stranded at third as Ichiro Suzuki flew out to center and
Chone Figgins struck out looking.

”You just keep on playing,” Wilson said. ”Every team is going
to go through a rut like that. We just won two in a row then had
two tough games and Anderson was pretty darn good out there and we
just couldn’t get a jump on him.”

The Mariners threatened again in the eighth inning, but
pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez struck out to strand the tying run at
third.

An error by Figgins on a possible double play ball kept the
ninth inning alive and Willingham doubled to score two more runs
for insurance off Jamey Wright to seal the win.

After the game, Seattle optioned right-hander Josh Lueke to
Triple-A Tacoma and recalled righty Dan Cortes in hoping of helping
stabilize a battered bullpen.

Anderson allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out six over
seven innings of work to earn the victory. Brian Fuentes came on in
the eighth inning and struck out three of his four batters in
picking up the four-out save. It was his sixth save in seven
chances.

Hideki Matsui came up with a two out single to right field that
scored Crisp from second to give Oakland the 1-0 lead.

Suzuki led off with a bunt single of his own in the bottom half
of the first and, despite being picked off by Anderson, was able to
get into second base safely when Daric Barton’s throw hit him in
the backside.

A grounder to second by Bradley brought Suzuki home and tied it
at 1.

Fister worked out of a jam in the fifth after giving up a
leadoff triple to Crisp. Adam Kennedy snared a one-hopper from
Barton at first and kept Crisp from advancing home. Fister then
forced David DeJesus to pop up to third base and Willingham flew
out to end the threat.

Crisp then flashed his glove. In the sixth inning, Miguel Olivo
led off with a drive to center that Crisp tracked down and caught
running full speed before slamming into the wall with his left
shoulder. Crisp seemed to favor it briefly before shaking it off
and staying in.

Notes: After the game, Seattle optioned OF Carlos Peguero and
RHP Josh Lueke to Triple-A Tacoma. The team activated 1B Justin
Smoak off the bereavement list and recalled RHP Dan Cortes. Both
Smoak and Cortes will be with the team Tuesday in Detroit. …
Crisp recorded his third triple of the season, tied for most in the
majors with Tampa Bay’s Sean Rodriguez. All three of Crisp’s 3-hit
games this year have come against Seattle pitching. … Suzuki was
the team’s designated hitter for the first time this season getting
the day off in the field.