Athletics nearly snap Rodney’s arrow in 6-5 loss

O.CO COLISEUM — With the A’s showing zero fight for the first seven innings, it looked as though Seattle would cruise to a 6-0 victory Tuesday night.

Then again, the Mariners were facing an Oakland team with a flair for the dramatic.

It took until the eighth inning for an Oakland baserunner to get to second base, yet, once achieved, home plate seemed a whole lot closer. Oakland scored five runs in the final two innings, but ultimately fell short in a 6-5 loss.

Sonny Gray (L, 13-8, 3.25 ERA) came in to Tuesday night boasting a 9-1 record with a 2.30 ERA in eleven career starts against AL West opponents. Tuesday night saw none of that dominance.

Gray went just five innings, giving up six earned on seven hits and two walks.

When asked what he thought of Gray’s performance, Bob Melvin said:

“He was better than his numbers would suggest. [Gray’s] stuff was terrific tonight. Seattle took advantage of the opportunities they had.”

Gray, though, sang a different tune:

“The final numbers are all that matter.”

After sailing through the first two innings, Gray allowed free passes to the first two batters in the third, Endy Chavez and Brad Miller, slotted in the seventh and eighth spots in the Mariners lineup.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

After Jesus Sucre bunted the runners to second and third, Austin Jackson singled home the pair to give the Mariners an early 2-0 lead.

For much of the night,that was all James Paxton (W, 5-1, 1.91 ERA, 7-2/3 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 3 walks) would need. Through six innings, Paxton had faced the minimum, with the aid of two double plays and a failed stolen base attempt by Craig Gentry.

Prior to being caught stealing, Gentry had stolen 20 bags in 21 attempts for a 95.2 percent success rate. Jesus Sucre, the Mariners catcher, had successfully thrown out 21 of 41 base stealers (51 percent) in Triple-A Tacoma this season.

Paxton added a third double play to his stat line in the eighth when the A’s had Nate Freiman and Derek Norris on base with nobody out. Norris, at second, advanced to third on the twin killing.

After a Josh Reddick walk, and a Seattle pitching change, the pinch-hitting Adam Dunn laced a single over the shift to right off of Yoervis Medina to plate the A’s first run of the evening.

With Reddick and pinch-runner Eric Sogard manning second and third, Gentry drove the ball over the head of left fielder Dustin Ackley that landed for a ground-rule double, plating both runners and cutting Seattle’s lead to 6-3 heading into the 9th.

Arrow-launching closer Fernando Rodney came in to pitch the ninth and promptly struck out Josh Donaldson and Stephen Vogt. After a two-out double to left-center by Norris, Brandon Moss pinch-hit for Nate Freiman and delivered a double of his own, scoring Norris.

Melvin again used his bench, going to Sam Fuld to pinch hit for Geovany Soto. Fuld delivered a ground-rule double to nearly the same spot Moss had hit his, scoring Moss and reducing the Seattle lead to 6-5.

With the tying run on second though, Josh Reddick grounded out to short to end the game, and saw Rodney fire his 40th arrow into the sky this season.

Derek Norris (2-for-4) said of Paxton’s performance tonight,:

“He’s a quality starter. He was running it up at 99 on our gun, which is slow…. we were still one swing away from winning the ballgame tonight.”

The “one swing away” mantra is one that Melvin, Norris and Lowrie all echoed in post-game interviews.

An 8-3 Angels loss at Houston means the A’s remain 4-1/2 games behind Los Angeles for the AL West lead and 4-1/2 games in front of Seattle in the Wild Card race.

Notes

Craig Gentry had an 0-16 streak going before his single in the fourth inning. … The Athletics called up Nate Freiman and Drew Pomeranz before Tuesday’s game. Freiman hit sixth in the lineup and Pomeranz pitched three-plus innings in relief. … Attendance for Tuesday’s game was 23,859.