SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners are witness to the formula for winning baseball: Good pitching, along with home runs with guys on base.
It’s a simple formula, but unfortunately for the Mariners, they were not in the mix. That was the way the Oakland Athletics managed to win all three weekend games, including Sunday’s 4-2 decision.
Tommy Milone worked six strong innings, Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer and the A’s never let the Mariners threaten.
It was the same way in the first two games, both 6-1 victories. A’s starters A.J. Griffin and Brett Anderson quieted the Mariners bats while George Kottaras hit a three-run homer in the opener and a two-run homer in the second.
“We ran into a hot team and sometimes that’s the way it goes. We’ve been in the games, we’ve gotten the runners in scoring position, we’ve gotten runners on base. We’ve missed those key hits,” said Michael Saunders, who had an RBI triple.
“Oakland typically runs out good pitching year in and year out. When you run into a good pitcher that is locating the ball well and mixing, you have some trouble hitting those guys.”
Milone (12-10) allowed eight hits and two runs, matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and had no walks.
He has walked one or no batters in each of his past 14 starts. That ties the longest streak by a starter in Oakland history. Gil Heredia also had 14 starts with one walk or less in 1999.
During his stretch, Milone has issued just eight walks and struck out 78 in 88 innings.
His 12 wins also ties the Oakland rookie record set by Chris Codiroli in 1983 and matched by Joe Blanton in 2005.
“I’ve always been a strike-thrower,” Milone said. “I feel like nothing good comes from putting guys on base with a free pass. That’s probably the reason why I give up so many hits.”
Grant Balfour worked the ninth to pick up his 16th save in 18 opportunities.
The victory moved the A’s within 3½ games of Texas in the AL West. The Rangers lost to Tampa Bay 6-0. Oakland is also doing well in the wild-card race.
“We’re getting our hits but we’re not doing any damage with them,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, “whether it’s stringing hits together or extra-base hits.
“We need multiple guys in the lineup stringing it together or doing some damage just to loosen things up a little bit,” he said. “Make no mistake about it, we’re in the business of winning ballgames and we have 20-some odd games to go. I look at all of them as very important to us.”
Jason Vargas (14-10) allowed four hits and three runs in seven innings. He walked three and struck out six.
Vargas’ key mistake was a 1-1 pitch to Gomes. Adam Rosales and Coco Crisp both had singled with two outs. Gomes then turned on the inside fastball and hit it against the left-field facade for a 3-0 lead.
“I was trying to go above his bat and his hands and he was able to stay on it,” Vargas said. “The pitches that I was worried about were to the two batters before that when I let them extend it.”
Vargas has yielded 32 home runs this season, including six in his last three starts.
Josh Donaldson hit also hit a solo home run in the Oakland ninth off Josh Kinney, his seventh.
NOTES: Felix Hernandez (4 2-3 innings) and Hisashi Iwakuma (3 2-3 innings) failed to go at least five innings in back-to-back games in the first two games of this series. It’s the first time since June 19-20 that a Mariners starter did not last at least five innings in consecutive games.