OAKLAND, Calif. — Fernando Rodney was warming in the bullpen of O.co Coliseum, preparing himself for another nail-biter of a save situation in the top of the ninth. But teammates decided to give him a night off.
The Mariners turned a 4-3 lead into an 8-3 win, scoring four runs in their final at-bat and rolling to an easy win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, putting them over .500 at 16-15 for the first time since April 15. They’ve now won four in a row and nine of their last 11 games — their best stretch of success this season.
The outburst easily secured the win for starter Roenis Elias, who improved to 3-2 on the season.
It was impossible for Elias to be as good as his last outing. He was that dominant against the Yankees. But the young left-hander showed some moxie.
Facing the American League West leading and ultra-patient A’s, Elias fought through a sluggish start, pitching 61/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out three.
Seattle jumped all over A’s starter Jesse Chavez in the first inning. James Jones and Robinson Cano got things going with back-to-back one-out singles. Jones advanced to third after tagging up on Corey Hart’s deep fly to center field. That move proved fortuitous because Chavez uncorked a wild pitch to Justin Smoak that allowed Jones to trot home.
Smoak then plated Cano with a pretty opposite-field double down the left-field line. Dustin Ackley later scored Smoak with a single to right-center to go up 3-0.
A 3-0 lead would have seemed to make the outing much easier for Elias, but he just wasn’t as sharp as usual.
Early on, his command wavered and his pitches wandered over the plate. Given a 3-0 lead, he gave two runs back in the second inning as a wild pitch put runners into scoring position and allowed Nick Punto to drive them home with a sharp single up the middle.
The next three innings were a fight for Elias, but he didn’t allow a run.
Seattle probably could have had a few more runs for Elias if not for some bad luck/good fielding by the A’s. In the third inning with Cano on second, Smoak hit a rocket to first base that Brandon Moss made a crazy, protect-yourself snare of the ball for the out. In the fourth inning with Ackley on second, Michael Saunders hit a bullet back up the middle that Chavez somehow caught on sheer reaction just inches from his face.
The Mariners finally added a run in the sixth inning on Mike Zunino’s sacrifice fly to right field to push the lead to 4-2.
But the A’s answered in the bottom of the inning. Yoenis Cespedes blasted a solo home to left field off his fellow Cuban to lead off the inning. Elias then gave up a single to Derek Norris and seemed to be in real trouble. But he got Alberto Callaspo to ground into a 5-4-3 double play and then struck out Craig Gentry looking on a nasty curveball to end the inning.
Elias pitched two batters into the seventh, getting lifted for Dominic Leone after walking Punto with one out. Leone worked out of the minor jam with three straight ground balls.