Mariners Bats Come Alive, Hang on for Sweep in Oakland

It took 11 days over two continents a half-world apart, but the Mariners found their offense against the A's this weekend, with an 8-7 victory Saturday that completed a two-game series sweep.

Felix Hernandez was the beneficiary of the latest Mariners outburst, as a Seattle team that finished last in the American League in scoring the past three years put up 15 runs in the pair of victories after totaling just four in a two-game split in Tokyo at the Opening Series.

Hernandez, who turns 26 on Sunday, picked up his first win of the season despite allowing six runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. He'd thrown eight innings of one-run ball in Japan on Opening Day, but wound up with a no-decision.

This time, the Mariners' offense delivered for its ace, putting up seven runs in the first four innings off veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon and then hanging on after the A's rallied late.

All nine Mariners starters had at least one hit, but two who many had given up on after last year led the offensive surge. New leadoff man Chone Figgins continued his hot start with a 3-for-5 night that included a triple, double, two RBIs and a run scored. Center fielder Michael Saunders ripped a solo home run in the sixth inning, carrying the momentum over from his impressive spring.

A year ago, Figgins hit .188 and Saunders .149, both losing their starting jobs midseason. But this is a new year, and the entire offense seems renewed the past two days after returning from Japan.

Figgins led off the first with a triple that bounced just inside the foul line in right field, then scored on a grounder to second by Dustin Ackley.

Seattle then opened a 7-0 lead with six runs on seven hits in the fourth inning, including an RBI triple by Ichiro Suzuki and a two-run double by Figgins. Justin Smoak, Miguel Olivo and Munenori Kawasaki added RBI singles.

It was Kawasaki's first Major League hit and RBI, as he started in place of shortstop Brendan Ryan, who was scratched 90 minutes before the game with a stiff neck.

Hernandez wiggled out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth with some fancy pitching, allowing just a sacrifice fly to Seth Smith before getting Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington to pop out.

The A's began chipping away though, scoring once in the fifth, twice in the sixth and putting two runners on with one out in the seventh before manager Eric Wedge pulled Hernandez after 102 pitches.

Rule 5 Draft pick Lucas Luetge made a memorable MLB debut, striking out Josh Reddick on three pitches, but A's center fielder Yoenis Cespedes continued his early season onslaught with a mammoth three-run home run off Steve Delabar to cut the margin to 8-7. It was Cespedes' third homer in the past three games against Seattle.

But Tom Wilhelmsen zipped through a 1-2-3 eighth before Brandon League came on for his second save in as many nights.


{courtesy: Greg Johns,,}