OAKLAND (AP) — Raul Alcantara tried to be perfect in his major league debut and it didn’t go well at all.
So his next time the Oakland Athletics’ 23-year-old rookie just tried to be himself. Though Alcantara wasn’t involved in the decision, he pitched much better.
Ketel Marte hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the A’s 3-2 Sunday for their fifth straight win.
Alcantara allowed two runs, seven hits, one walk and a hit batter in 5 2/3 innings.
In his major league debut Wednesday, he became the first A’s pitcher to hit three batters and issue a balk in one game since Howard Ehmke did it in 1930.
He left Sunday’s game to an ovation from fans and was greeted by fist bumps in the A’s dugout.
“I focused on pitching my game and not making the perfect pitch like last time,” Alcantara said through a translator.
Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer off a slider Alcantara left over the middle of the plate in the top of the second inning.
“It was just another at-bat where I felt like I got to two strikes pretty quick, but he showed me the slider early and I was able to lay off of it, and he threw another one that was in the zone and up,” Zunino said. “I was just able to get up in the zone and barrel it.”
That was the only big mistake the right-hander made on the day, according to A’s catcher Stephen Vogt.
“He has an electric fastball, his changeup is a plus pitch and he threw some good breaking balls, too,” Vogt said. “I think the stuff is really, really good, it’s definitely an indication of what we thought and what I thought going into this week it would be.”
Alcantara’s outing was especially important from a development standpoint.
“It’s huge, especially coming off a bad start in his debut, to come back and hold a team like that to two runs,” Vogt said.
The Mariners remained 3 1/2 games behind in the AL wild-card race.
Marte had three hits and Zunino also doubled for Seattle.
Zunino doubled off Ryan Madson (5-5) to begin the ninth and pinch runner Ben Gamel moved up on a single by Leonys Martin. Marte followed with his go-ahead single.
Steve Cishek (3-6) pitched a scoreless eighth. Edwin Diaz closed for his 15th save.
Mariners starter James Paxton had his first quality start in more than a month, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks in six innings.
Oakland released designated hitter Billy Butler. The 30-year-old right-handed hitter was in the second year of a three-year $30 million contract. He was batting .276 with four home runs and 31 RBI in 85 games this year. Butler hopes to catch on with another team sometime before next season. He acknowledged he probably wasn’t a good fit for the platoon-oriented A’s. “You don’t have the type of at-bats I have in the big leagues with the type of success I have for not being able to hit both sides,” Butler said. “I feel I can bring that to a team at a championship level and I’ve proven that.”
Mariners: 1B Adam Lind left the in the fifth inning with a finger sprain, manager Scott Servais said. “It’s not broke,” Servais said. “He had X-rays. He could be out a couple days and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray, on the disabled list since Aug. 7 with a right forearm strain, threw about 10-12 pitches off a mound on Sunday, A’s manager Bob Melvin said. The 2015 All-Star is hoping to be activated before the end of the year, but Melvin said the A’s will be cautious before making such a move.
“It’d be nice to get him into a game, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most important thing in the world,” Melvin said. “His health is the most important thing for us.”
Athletics: LHP Ross Detwiler will be making his sixth start since being called up from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 10 in a series opener in Kansas City. He allowed one run in seven innings of three-hit ball in his last start on Aug. 31.