OAKLAND — Seattle’s two most feared hitters had the deciding say Saturday night at The Coliseum.
Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer off Kendall Graveman and Nelson Cruz added a solo shot that keyed the Mariners’ 4-3 victory in Oakland.
The A’s trailed 4-1 before rallying to pull within one and create some late-inning drama before a sold-out crowd. But Edwin Diaz, Seattle’s recently installed closer, shut the door in the ninth for his sixth save in six opportunities this month.
Cruz singled in the first off Graveman (8-8), and his 29th homer in the fourth made him 7-for-11 lifetime against the right-hander. Cano came in 5-for-8 against Graveman and connected for his 26th homer.
Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings and four Seattle relievers closed it out for him.
Starting pitching report
Graveman came in having allowed just three home runs in 59 1/3 innings at home this year. But Seattle’s two biggest boppers made him pay for a couple of mistakes. Nelson Cruz hit the first pitch of the fourth over the wall in center to tie it 1-1. Then after Seth Smith’s two-out RBI single put the Mariners ahead in the fifth, Robinson Cano jumped on the first pitch from Graveman and smacked a two-run homer to straightaway center to make it 4-1. The right-hander went six innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, with a walk and two strikeouts. After going 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA in July (11 ER in 37 IP), Graveman has allowed 11 earned runs in 17 innings in three starts so far in August.
Liam Hendriks did well to pitch out of a one-out jam in the top of the ninth and strand runners at second and third, at least setting the table for a potential tying rally for the A’s in the bottom half.
At the plate
The A’s fought back from a 4-1 deficit to provide some late-inning suspense. Designated hitter Billy Butler was at the center of much that went right for Oakland. He led off the second with a single and scored on Coco Crisp’s two-out single to right. After Khris Davis hit his 29th homer in the sixth to make it a 4-2 game, Butler doubled past center fielder Leonys Martin with one out and hustled around to score from second on Jake Smolinski’s single to right field. Butler slid in just ahead of the tag from Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta and pumped his fist after the safe call from home plate umpire Chris Guccione.
Davis’ homer, a towering shot on a chest-high pitch from Hisashi Iwakuma (14-7), went deep into the seats in left-center. It was his second homer in as many nights. Crisp had three hits for the A’s.
In the field
Yonder Alonso has put on quite a show defensively on this homestand. He made a diving backhand stop to rob Kyle Seager of a base hit in the sixth. The A’s have committed just one error in their past seven games.
Star Wars fireworks night drew a sellout crowd of 35,067.
Coming off an impressive start against Baltimore, Zach Neal (2-1, 4.60) takes the mound in Sunday’s homestand finale. He’ll oppose lefty Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 4.71), with first pitch at 1:05 p.m.