Instant Replay: A's 8, Mariners 2

September 29, 2012, 5:07 am
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OAKLAND -- When the A's hit a home run, they win 65.8 of the time. When they hit multiple home runs, they win 72.5 of the time. When Coco Crisp leads off with a home run, they win every time.Crisp's first at-bat since Sept. 18 produced his 11th home run of the season, and his fourth that led off a game. The A's have won all four of those contests, claiming the latest Friday night over the Seattle Mariners 8-2.Around the league in a tight playoff race, the Rays lost to the White Sox, but the Angels' 7-4 victory over the Rangers put the pressure on Oakland to keep pace. The A's win lowered their magic number to secure a berth in the Wild Card game to four.Starting pitching report:Making the 96th start by an A's rookie this season, A.J. Griffin was once again strong. After becoming the second pitcher ever to go undefeated in his first 11 starts while maintaining an ERA under 2.00, Griffin was roughed up in his last two outings. He tossed fewer than five innings in each, sporting an ERA of 9.00 and an opponents batting average of .375.Friday night he looked more like the pitcher who went 6-0 with a 1.94 ERA over his first 11.Griffin scattered four hits over five and two-thirds innings. But he got into trouble in the sixth inning when he loaded the bases by hitting John Jaso in the hand.The bullpen got the call, and held Griffin's final line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 96 pitches. Griffin advanced his record to 7-1.Bullpen report:Sean Doolittle entered in a tight spot, inheriting a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth. He worked quickly, using four pitches to get Justin Smoak to fly out to right field and end the threat. Doolittle has now stranded 19 of his last 20 inherited runners.Doolittle went back to work in the seventh inning, but his first offering was met by Michael Saunders' barrel for a home run to right-center field that made it 4-2.Jerry Blevins and Jim Miller pitched the eighth and ninth.With the bats:A day after hitting a season-high tying five home runs, the A's tacked on another two Friday, upping their major league-leading total to 106 since the All-Star break. Their 189 home runs on the season are tied for eighth most in franchise history. The A's did well to score without their typical top-of-the-order jackrabbit, averaging 5.78 runs per game over the nine-game span without Coco Crisp. But Crisp reminded Oakland why he is undoubtedly the team's leadoff hitter early.In the A's first at-bat, Crisp worked the count full and the crowd to their feet before spinning on the sixth pitch from Blake Beavan and sending his 89-mph fastball over the right-field wall for a 1-0 lead.Stephen Drew came feet away from going back-to-back, but his opposite-field drive traveled 362 feet, where Trayvon Robinson corralled it leaning against the wall at the 362-foot sign.Drew didn't leave any room for doubt his next at-bat. Following a third-inning single by Cliff Pennington, Drew got every bit of a no-doubt bomb into the right-field bleachers that reclaimed the lead for the A's.Crisp initiated another scoring rally in the fifth inning when he doubled with two outs. The A's loaded the bases to chase Beavan from the game, and relief pitcher Oliver Perez's first pitch got away from catcher John Jaso, allowing Crisp enough time for a belly-slide into home plate and a 4-1 A's lead.Crisp added a single in the seventh for his third hit of the night, finishing a triple shy of the cycle.His seventh-inning single was bookended by walks to Cliff Pennington and Drew, and the A's added four insurance runs on a walk to Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick's fielder's choice and a two-RBI single by Josh Donaldson with the infield drawn in. It was a 37-pitch inning for the Mariners, and it sucked the life out of any Seattle comeback plans.With the gloves:The A's played error-free ball, snapping their season-high streak of games with at least one error at six. They still have the second most defensive miscues in the American League (107).Yoenis Cespedes hands down made the play of the game in the eighth inning. Jesus Montero laced a line drive to left-center field. Cespedes had to travel a good distance to get to the ball, and left the ground at top speed, fully extending parallel to the grass before the ball disappeared into his glove.Crisp came within inches of robbing a home run a half-inning after hitting one of his own. The center fielder was in position, leapt at the wall and looked hopefully into his glove when he returned to the playing field, but came up empty on Trayvon Robinson's game-tying home run.Brandon Moss looked every bit the first baseman when he initiated a 3-6-3 double play to end the top of the fourth.Attendance:The A's announced a paid attendance of 16,376.Up next: The A's big series continues Saturday afternoon when rookie Dan Straily (2-1, 3.60 ERA) takes the mound against seven-year veteran Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA). Coverage begins on Comcast SportsNet California with A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.

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