SEATTLE - Any thoughts that getting blasted three straight games by the Angels was going to ruin the Cinderella story being crafted by the Oakland A's proved to have no basis in reality this weekend in Seattle.
Jonny Gomes' three-run homer in the fifth inning gave A's starter Tommy Milone some room to work, and Josh Donaldson added a solo shot for insurance in the ninth to back the pitching of Milone and the Oakland bullpen for a 4-2 win over the Mariners on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep in the Pacific Northwest.
After being outscored 21-5 by the Angels in Oakland, the A's came back to be the team in charge in Seattle, outscoring the Mariners 16-4. Even after getting swept by the Angels, the A's have remained in the hunt for the playoffs by winning 12 of their last 15 games and 18 of their last 23.
Now the second-place A's have to face the third-place Angels again, this time for four games in Anaheim that figure to have a major impact on the AL playoff race. The A's are currently leading the wild card standings, and the Angels sit just two games back with the Orioles in the middle.
``You don't have to do checks on this team's character anymore,'' Gomes said after his 16th homer proved decisive. ``With the guys we've had hurt and sent out and traded and the (suspension) issue with (Bartolo) Colon, we just go out there and keep our heads up.
``We really go game to game.''
Milone, who gave up eight hits but no walks, will be the only Oakland starter who won't get a shot at the Angels this week. But he's not lacking for confidence in his mates heading into the series.
``We got our momentum back this series heading into Anaheim,'' Milone said. ``We're going to their place and it should be a good series.''
Seattle starter Jason Vargas had to work a bit to get through the first two innings, then settled down to retire nine batters in succession before a two-out single by Adam Rosales in the fifth. Coco Crisp followed with a single and Gomes unloaded his 16th homer, a three-run shot off the facing of the second deck in left field. It was the first career hit for Gomes off Vargas after having been 0-for-10 against the veteran lefty.
``I was upset that Rosales was able to extend the inning,'' Vargas said. ``That's the guy I had to get. On the homer I was trying to get the ball above his hands and above his bat, but he stayed right on it.''
Vargas (14-10) has been plagued by home runs this year. He led the AL in that category for much of the summer and came into Sunday with 31 homers allowed, three behind Ervin Santana of the Angels.
He didn't allow another hit in pitching through the seventh inning, but Vargas found the homer by Gomes to be his undoing.
Donaldson's homer, his seventh, came off Seattle reliever Josh Kinney in the ninth. The homers give the A's 162 for the season, more power from the Oakland offense than in any season since hitting 171 in 2007.
``Since June we've been able to do it with pitching and the home run ball,'' manager Bob Melvin said. ``We've gotten a lot better; we don't feel like we have to string hits together to score runs.''
Milone, who was coming off his shortest and least-effective (three innings, 10 hits, five runs) start of the season, carried a shutout into the fifth inning when Michael Saunders' two-out triple scored Brendan Ryan to get the Mariners to within 3-1.
An inning later, Kyle Seager led off with his 17th homer, a solo shot to right, and Seattle had a chance to get more on Miguel Olivo's single and stolen base. But Milone didn't let the Mariners get the ball out of the infield, forcing a weak pop fly and two strikeouts.
Milone, who tied the Oakland rookie record with his 12th win, was in trouble much of the day, but he came up with big pitch after big pitch, leaving runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings before Melvin went to the bullpen to start the seventh. Milone struck out 10 in his six innings, and four of those came with men in scoring position.
``We are getting our hits, but we're not doing any damage,'' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
The Mariners got the tying run to the plate in the ninth after John Jaso led off against reliever Grant Balfour with a double, but, thanks in part to a nice sliding catch in right field by Josh Reddick, Balfour survived to get his 16th save.
NOTES: Milone has made 14 consecutive starts allowing one or zero walks. ... Oakland catcher George Kottaras finally got a day off Sunday after a five-game stretch with 13 RBIs. In his first 16 games with the A's after being acquired from Milwaukee, Kottaras has five homers and 16 RBIs. ... Wedge gave two of his regulars the day off Sunday, second baseman Dustin Ackley and first baseman Justin Smoak. Ackley was 8-for-33 (.242) and Smoak 5-for-25 (.200) on the homestand. Ackley grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth ... The homers by Gomes and Donaldson give the A's 79 since the All-Star break, moving them ahead of the White Sox (78) for the most in the big leagues since the break. ... Seattle left fielder Saunders came into Sunday hitting 43 points higher against left-handed pitchers (.276) than against right-handers (.243). That's the second best differential for a left-handed hitter behind Texas' David Murphy, who has an 80-point differential.
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!
|Best of Yardbarker||NFL News||MLB News||NBA News||NHL News|
Today's Best Stuff