SEATTLE—As far as omens go, Franklin Gutierrez hitting a home run in his first at-bat after coming off the 60-day disabled list is a promising one.
And sure enough, it set into motion one of the most exhilarating games of the season for the Seattle Mariners as they pulled out a 7-5 victory over the A’s.
Down by three runs in the seventh and staring at their fourth straight loss, they tied it on Raul Ibanez’s three-run homer, then stormed into the lead on a two-run single by Nick Franklin in the eighth.
Yoervis Medina, who had entered the game in the seventh and gave up a two run-scoring singles, finished off the A’s in the ninth for his second victory. He gave up a leadoff single to Jed Lowrie but induced a double-play grounder from dangerous Yoenis Cespedes.
On a beautiful summer night, that portion of the crowd of 20,704 rooting for the Mariners initially had little to make them happy besides Gutierrez’s homer and a lovely sunset behind Safeco Field.
That changed in the seventh, however, after Oakland had scored two in the top of the inning to take 5-2 lead. Kyle Seager led off with a single against left-hander Jerry Blevins, and Kendrys Morales drew a walk.
That brought up Ibanez, not quite three weeks past his 41st birthday. On an 0-1 pitch, the left-handed hitter unloaded against Blevins, sending it over the wall in right for a game-tying three-run homer, his team-leading 15th. Although hitting just .180 against lefties, Ibanez has now hit five homers in 51 at-bats against southpaws. Gutierrez followed with a double but was stranded at third base.
Brendan Ryan led off the eighth by lining a single off Oakland reliever Ryan Cook. With Endy Chavez squared to bunt, Cook unleashed a wild pitch that moved Ryan to second. Chavez then did drop down a bunt —so well that instead of a sacrifice, he beat it out for a single.
The A’s let Chavez advance to second — ruled defensive indifference rather than a steal. And Franklin made them pay on the very next pitch, dropping a soft liner into left-center to bring both runners home. Franklin finished the game with three hits and three runs batted in
In his first plate appearance since April 22 against the Astros, in the second inning, Gutierrez had battled his way to a full count against Oakland starter Dan Straily. And on Straily’s ninth pitch, Gutierrez sent a towering drive to right center that drifted over the wall, and gave the Mariners a hint of what they’ve been missing during Gutierrez’s two-month absence.
The Mariners added another run in the inning as Straily followed Gutierrez’s homer — his fifth of the year — by walking the next two hitters, Justin Smoak and Henry Blanco. Straily then struck out the two after that â€” Brendan Ryan and Endy Chavez â€” before Nick Franklin singled to right to score Smoak. Franklin, fresh off a three-run homer on Friday, had doubled off the right-field wall in the first but was stranded at third.
Mariners starter Aaron Harang gave back one of the runs in the third as Eric Sogard led off with a double â€” one of his three hits â€” and eventually scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly.
Lowrie, who came to Oakland from Houston in a February trade, is developing into a Mariner nemesis. He added a two-run single off Harang in the fifth and had a double in the seventh and single in the ninth. Of Lowrie’s 21 doubles this year, eight have come against the Mariners, to go with two homers and 10 runs batted in. Overall, he’s 17-for-39 (.436) in 11 games facing the M’s this year.