TOKYO (AP) — A change in continents failed to help the Oakland Athletics on opening day.
The A's lost their eighth straight opener, 3-1 in 11 innings to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night, as Dustin Ackley homered and singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning,
"They got bigger hits than we did at the end," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We hit some balls hard, but they just didn't get in."
Felix Hernandez combined with two relievers on a six-hitter as Major League Baseball opened its season in Tokyo for the fourth time. The A's became the first team to lose eight straight openers since Philadelphia from 1985-92, according to STATS LLC.
Oakland was just 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. Last year, the A's hit .266 with runners on second or third, 22 points above their overall average.
After finishing 12th in runs in the league with 645, Oakland opted not to re-sign Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui.
Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who signed a $36 million, four-year contract with the A's, was 1 for 3 with a seventh-inning double and two strikeouts in his major league debut.
Cespedes' double was the last hit for Oakland until Seth Smith singled with two outs in the 11th off Brandon League, who struck out Kurt Suzuki to end the game.
A capacity crowd of 44,227 at Tokyo Dome was a sea of flashbulbs every time Ichiro Suzuki came to bat. He got a standing ovation when he took his position in right field in the final inning.
The 38-year-old Suzuki set a big league record with 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons before falling short last year.
"He's a hitting machine," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin, who managed ichiro Suzuki with the Mariners in 2003 and 2004. "It doesn't matter where he bats in the lineup. That's what he does — hit."
Seattle and Oakland complete their two-game series Thursday. The rest of the big league teams start to get going April 4, when the renamed Miami Marlins open their new ballpark against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
"It was very special to open in Japan," said Ichiro Suzuki, who spent nine seasons in Osaka with the Orix Blue Wave. "I wanted to have fun and give the fans something at this special time and wanted to share a special moment with them."
Ackley homered in the fourth off Brandon McCarthy, putting the Mariners ahead.
"It was a really bad fastball," McCarthy said. "It was supposed to be a cutter up and in, and it turned out to be a cutter in the middle, and I asked him to hit it out."
Kurt Suzuki doubled in a run in the bottom half off Hernandez, who allowed five hits in eight innings.
"He's a great pitcher," Kurt Suzuki said. "He got into some tough situations tonight, but he made the pitches when he had to."
Hernandez struck out six and walked none.
"I didn't think he was throwing as hard as he normally throws," Cliff Pennington said. "But he was still Felix, and was still pitching. It's always a battle when you're facing him."
The score remained 1-1 until the 11th, when Brendan Ryan doubled against Andrew Carignan (0-1), Chone Figgins sacrificed and Ackley singled to center. Jerry Blevins relieved, Ackley stole second and Ichiro Suzuki singled for a two-run lead. Brandon League closed it out for the save.
Tom Wilhelmsen (1-0) got the win with two hitless innings.
Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who signed a $36 million, four-year contract with Oakland, was 1 for 3 with a seventh-inning double and two strikeouts in his major league debut.
McCarthy gave up one run and six hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
NOTES: The eight straight losses in openers is an A's record, one shy of the major league mark shared by the New York Giants (1893-1901) and Atlanta (1972-80). ... It was 3:09 a.m. PDT when the game began. It was not televised live in the U.S. outside the markets of the teams involved, and was shown on a delayed basis by the MLB Network. ... Bartolo Colon starts Thursday the A's, opposed by Jason Vargas. ... The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs opened in Tokyo in 2000, followed by the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay (2004), and Boston and Oakland (2008). Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play at the Tokyo Dome in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the threat of war in Iraq. ... A pregame video presentation honored victims and survivors of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. The video was narrated by Derek Jeter, Bobby Valentine and Cal Ripken Jr. ... MLB and the players' association are using the series to assist rebuilding in Japan following last year's earthquake and tsunami. A group of players and coaches traveled to the disaster zone on Tuesday to conduct a baseball clinic.