Cruz crushes A’s to second-straight loss

The last time the A’s beat Felix Hernandez in Oakland was September 18, 2008. After Sunday afternoon’s loss, the seven-year reign of King Felix continues.

The A’s chipped away early at Hernandez, but sloppy defense and a 10th-inning Nelson Cruz blast offset a furious ninth-inning Oakland comeback for an 8-7 Mariners victory.

Catcher Stephen Vogt placed no blame on pitcher Jesse Hahn for the runs, saying:

“He went in there and did a great job for us today.  There were two mistake pitches. One to Ackley and one to Cano. Unfortunately, that was the tell tale of the day.”

Vogt said he didn’t think an offering from Tyler Clippard (L, 0-1, 3.00 ERA) — a fastball which Cruz belted into the left-field bleachers for his first home run of the afternoon — was the wrong pitch either.

After falling behind 7-3 going into the ninth, Oakland’s rally began with a Josh Reddick double to left, and was followed by a walk drawn by Marcus Semien.

A Sam Fuld double knocked in both, with Semien squarely on the heels of Reddick as the pair crossed home plate.

First baseman Mark Canha reached on an infield single, and a Ben Zobrist walk loaded the bases. Billy Butler hacked at a changeup, grounding into a double play that scored Fuld to cut Seattle’s lead to 7-6.

Bob Melvin pinch-hit Eric Sogard for Cody Ross, who brought the Coliseum to its feet with a sharp single to left, scoring Canha and sending the game into extras at 7-7. A’s hopes were dashed when Cruz homered to decide a second-straight game.

Designated hitter Butler got to Hernandez in the second inning, starting a rally with a single to left.  Stephen Vogt singled to advance Butler to second before Brett Lawrie singled to left, loading the bases.

Semien once again failed to deliver with the bases loaded, flying out to center to snuff an early A’s opportunity to get on the board.

Two innings later, an Ike Davis single brought in Butler, who had doubled. Vogt whacked a triple to right, scoring Davis and bringing returning outfielder Reddick to the plate, who singled to center scoring Vogt for a 3-0 lead. Reddick had returned to the starting roster from the disabled list today after Tyler Ladendorf was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Once again, Semien came up with two outs. Like he’s done a few times this season, he grounded out to end the inning on a 6-4-3 double play.

Hernandez threw five innings and allowed eight hits, three runs. He was removed for precautionary reasons with tightness in his right quad.

All was smooth sailing for Jesse Hahn, who breezed through the first three innings with nine batters up and nine batters down.

In the top of sixth, the Mariners started to creep up on Hahn. Shortstop Brad Miller hit a sac-fly that scored Dustin Ackley from third base. Hahn then walked center fielder Austin Jackson, which brought up Robinson Cano.

Cano hit a line drive to right fielder Reddick, who ran in on the catch but fumbled the ball, allowing Jackson and catcher Mike Zunino to score without a throw. Cano would later score off a Kyle Seager single to center field for a 4-3 Seattle lead.

Hahn, clearly disappointed in his performance, said:

“The curveball to Cano, I tried to bury it and made a mistake. He was trying to pull the ball down the line so he could score those runners and I gave him the pitch to do so. That’s where it all started.”

Hahn had a no-hitter going until the fateful sixth inning. He added:

“I felt great all game, I thought I had my best stuff today.”

Hahn would watch the end of the inning from the bench. He allowed three hits and four runs with only two strikeouts.

Left-hander Eric O’ Flaherty relieved Hahn, and things only got uglier in the seventh. O’Flaherty served up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks, extending the Mariners lead to 7-3 before the A’s ninth-inning comeback.

The A’s begin a 10-game road trip Monday in Houston at 5:10 p.m. before moving on to visit the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels.

Notes

Oakland (3-4) has outscored the opposition 30-0 in their three wins and have been outscored 26-13 in their four losses. … Jesse Hahn is 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA (1 ER in 12-2/3 innings) in two career starts against Seattle. … Billy Butler (3-for-4, one run, double) is the only Athletic to hit safely in each of the first seven games and is the only American Leaguer with a seven-game hitting streak. … Robinson Cano (0-for-5, one run) is hitless in his last 13 at-bats.