Mariners 4, Athletics 2

This was the kind of 1-2 pitching punch the Seattle Mariners

expected.

Just not from guys named Fister and Vargas.

Jason Vargas threw six innings for Seattle, and Milton Bradley

and Franklin Gutierrez came through with bat-shattering run scoring

hits in the Mariners 4-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on

Wednesday night.

A day after Doug Fister tossed eight scoreless innings, Vargas

did his part as the back of the Mariners rotation gave Seattle its

first series victory of the young season.

“He’s got great poise on that mound,” Seattle manager Don

Wakamatsu said. “He makes one mistake early giving up a home run

to center field, but he battled and fought back.”

Vargas (1-1) might be a placeholder until Cliff Lee returns from

the disabled list and gives Seattle arguably the best Nos. 1 and 2

starters in the American League with Felix Hernandez.

Until then, though, Vargas and Fister have so far been just

fine.

Vargas’ only mistake was a middle-of-the-zone fastball that Jake

Fox hit for a two-run homer to center in the second inning – a ball

Gutierrez felt he could have robbed if he hadn’t been playing so

shallow. The homer was Fox’s first of the season, snapping an 0 for

11 streak.

Otherwise, Vargas scattered five hits, struck out six and walked

none. He set down nine of the final 10 batters he faced, and

Seattle starters have now gone 14 innings without allowing a

walk.

Vargas started using a cut fastball again on Wednesday, a pitch

he shelved last year as he recovered from hip surgery in favor of

gaining better control of his breaking ball.

“For me to be able to go back to it didn’t take a whole lot of

time,” Vargas said. “A couple of bullpen sessions with it and

tonight was really the first time we used it.”

Seattle reliever Brandon League worked a scoreless seventh and

eighth innings and David Aardsma converted his fourth save – he’s

closed all of Seattle’s wins – with a perfect ninth. Aardsma has

converted 14 straight saves since last August.

Oakland got just one baserunner after the fourth inning.

“Last night I thought (Fister) really located well, pitched

well,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “Today, I thought we had

some opportunities where we didn’t hit the pitches we should have

hit.”

As well as Vargas threw, he was left looking for a little

offensive help until the Mariners bats started coming up with

clutch, two-out hits.

Bradley was first. Down 2-0 in the fifth, he dumped the first

pitch from Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez into left field, sending

his bat barrel nearly to third base. The hit scored two and

Gutierrez’s hit an inning later scored Adam Moore with the go-ahead

run.

Bradley, on his eighth big league team, finally made a mark with

the Mariners on Tuesday night with a game-winning three-run homer

in the eighth inning. But he was drawing the ire of fans after just

one at-bat on Wednesday.

Bradley rounded third too far after Moore’s infield hit in the

second and was tagged out during a rundown between third and home

for the Mariners’ second base-running blunder of the inning.

The cheers were back a few innings later. Seattle loaded the

bases on an infield single by Ichiro Suzuki and walks to Chone

Figgins and Gutierrez. Jose Lopez fouled out behind third, but

Bradley muscled Gonzalez’s first offering into left.

An inning later, Moore led off with a single and moved to second

on Figgins’ two-out walk off reliever Chad Gaudin (0-1).

Gutierrez’s single to left was picked clean by Eric Patterson, but

he bobbled getting the ball from his glove and the lumbering Moore

beat the throw home. Lopez then followed with another single to

score Figgins.

“These guys are playing hard and the key was after those two

baserunning mistakes they didn’t give up and kept playing hard and

played a good ball game,” Wakamatsu said.

NOTES: Suzuki snapped an 0 for 13 skid with a 45-foot dribbler

up the first-base line in the fifth inning. … Seattle swapped

starters for the weekend, pushing RHP Ian Snell back to Sunday and

moving LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith to Saturday. Snell has been out of

town after a death in his family. … Oakland INF Mark Ellis missed

his third straight game with a strained hamstring, but Geren said

he is improving. … The crowd of 15,978 was second-smallest in

Safeco Field history.