A’s Edge Mariners to Pull Within 1 Game of 1st in AL West
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Another solid outing from Mike Fiers and Jed Lowrie's 100th career home run helped the surging Oakland Athletics move a step closer to first place in the AL West.
The Seattle Mariners, who were eight games ahead of Oakland six weeks weeks ago, are just trying to stick around in the wild-card race, a task that got a little tougher following an injury to ace James Paxton's pitching arm.
Jed Lowrie hit a two-run homer after his line drive knocked Paxton out of the game in the first inning, and Oakland beat Seattle 3-2 on Tuesday night to move within one game of the slumping Houston Astros.
Fiers (8-6) gave up two runs on six hits in six innings with five strikeouts in his second start since being acquired in a trade from Detroit.
Oakland won its fourth straight and improved to 17-6 since the All-Star break. The Astros have been in first since June 14 and led by as many as six games in late July, while the A's haven't had a share of first place this late in a season since Aug. 25, 2014.
"We feel good," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We've got some confidence, obviously, because of the stretch. But I don't think anybody's thinking about that right now. We're just trying to win."
It got a bit easier after Paxton's early exit. He allowed a home run to Marcus Semien and struck out Matt Chapman before Lowrie lined a 2-1 pitch up the middle that hit the left-hander.
"It got all muscle," Paxton said. "It's just swollen right now. It tightened up right away. By the time I walked off the mound it was starting to puff up."
Mariners manager Scott Servais said Paxton will miss at least one start.
"We'll know more in the next coming days and how the swelling is," Servais said. "It's unfortunate, but looking on the bright side, we probably got a little lucky. It could have been a lot, lot worse."
Felix Hernandez replaced Paxton in the first relief appearance of his career after 398 starts. The former Cy Young Award winner, who has struggled all year and was demoted to the bullpen last week, allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"It was weird," Hernandez said. "I just grabbed the ball and tried to throw as many pitches as I could, trying to get loose. I know my body, I know my arm. I was ready to go."
Hernandez's stay in the bullpen might not last long. He's expected to take Paxton's turn in the rotation until the left-hander returns.
"Paxton has been a horse for us all year. He's had a great season," Servais said. "But there's nothing you can do. It was a comebacker that was hit really hard. I knew right away when I went out there it wasn't going to be good."
Robinson Cano returned to Seattle's lineup after serving an 80-game suspension for using a diuretic that can mask performance-enhancing drugs. The eight-time All-Star batted second and played first base, going 1 for 4.
Four Oakland relievers combined to pitch three scoreless innings. Blake Treinen worked the ninth for his 32nd save in 36 opportunities.
Hernandez (8-11) walked Khris Davis but pitched out of the jam in the first. He ran into trouble in the third after a two-out walk to Chapman. Lowrie followed with his 19th homer this season.
"It was a pretty good curveball. I think he was sitting on it," Hernandez said. "I just have to attack the hitters, attack the strike zone and make good pitches."
Cameron Maybin homered for Seattle.
ODDS AND ENDS
The A's are 38-12 since June 16, their best 50-game stretch since 2005. ... Semien's leadoff homer was the second of his career. The other came Sept. 26, 2017 and was also off Paxton. ... Maybin has a nine-game hitting streak.
Mariners: 2B Dee Gordon was back in the lineup after sitting out the series opener with a bruised right shoulder he suffered sliding into a base in Houston on Sunday.
Seattle RHP Mike Leake (8-7, 4.11 ERA) seeks his first win in three starts against Oakland this season. Leake has five consecutive quality starts. LHP Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.53) is 2-1 since coming off the disabled list.