Baseball / Sports

Athletics' Kazmir suffers first loss of the season

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The hottest team in the American League West was on display at the Coliseum on Tuesday night. For a change, that team wasn't wearing green-and-gold uniforms.

No, folks, it's the Seattle Mariners who are making the most noise of late in the division, with nine wins in their past 11 games after beating the Athletics, 8-3.

The Mariners handed Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir (4-1) his first loss of the season Monday night in the opener of the four-game series. On Tuesday, they saddled right-hander Jesse Chavez with his first loss in seven outings this season.

The Mariners' resurgence has come on the heels of an eight-game losing streak. Tuesday's victory marked their fourth straight.

Seattle moved back above .500 and within two games of the division-leading A's. The A's lost for the fourth time in five games.

The Mariners came out swinging against Chavez, scoring three runs in the first inning. The A's spent the rest of the game chasing the Mariners.

"He was a little out of sorts in the first inning," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Chavez. "He battled. That's the sign of a guy that can recover and pitch well. He kept us in the game."

Chavez said he isn't sure what went wrong in the first inning. Yet he came within an out of making it through the sixth.

"I just had to grind," Chavez said.

The A's twice got within a run, but the Mariners bullpen prevented the A's from scoring in the final 2 2/3 innings.

The A's continued to struggle at the plate. They are batting .174 in their past five games, with 12 runs scored. Melvin said this is just one of those dry spells that surface during a long season.

"Our approaches are fine," Melvin said, "we're just not swinging the bats like we did the three games in Texas. . . . We'll swing it well again."

A four-run Seattle ninth blew open a close game and ended the suspense after the A's threatened in the seventh and eighth by putting two runners aboard.

Jim Johnson was summoned to pitch the ninth in hopes he could keep the A's within striking distance.

Instead, he allowed two hits, two walks and four runs -- none earned -- as the Mariners turned the game into a rout.

Johnson exited the field to a chorus of boos after recording only two outs and making a throwing error. He hadn't allowed a run in his previous eight appearances.

"It just got away from him a little bit," Melvin said.

Johnson came close to getting out of the inning without any runs scored. But Corey Hart beat out the relay to first as the A's attempted an inning-ending double play on a ground ball.

The Mariners scored three more times after Hart's at-bat. The A's went quietly in the ninth.

-- Melvin remained undecided whether to use left-hander Drew Pomeranz or right-hander Arnold Leon as the starting pitcher for the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Mariners.

Leon, 25, joined the A's on Tuesday from Triple-A Sacramento, and he is slated to be activated Wednesday, when the A's are permitted to have a 26th man on their roster for the nightcap.

Leon went 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA in six starts for Sacramento. Pomeranz has appeared in nine games for the A's this season, all in relief. He has a 1.98 ERA for his 13 2/3 innings of work.

-- Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson walked in the third inning, which extended his streak of reaching base via hit or walk to 28 games. That's the longest current streak in the majors, and it matches his streak from last year. Both are tied for the longest for an A's hitter the past six seasons.

-- Reliever Eric O'Flaherty had another bullpen session Tuesday in his recovery from elbow surgery. He made 30 pitches, Melvin said.

"Real soon, he'll be throwing to hitters," Melvin said.

Just when will be revealed by Melvin on Wednesday, he said. O'Flaherty isn't eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list until May 29.

-- Sean Doolittle relieved Chavez and struck out Brad Miller to end the sixth. He also struck out the side in the seventh.

(c)2014 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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