OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - After 16 years in the big leagues, Jamey Wright finally has his first save - with some unintended help from teammate Brandon League.
The veteran starter-turned-reliever, who has pitched sparingly over the last six weeks, bailed out League and the Mariners with a perfect 10th inning, helping preserve Seattle's 4-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
``It's something I've always wanted an opportunity to get to do,' said the 36-year-old right-hander. ``I felt great out there and did exactly what I wanted to do. I've never been in that situation before. It was pretty cool.'
Wright's achievement came after League, the AL leader in saves and one of two Seattle All-Stars this year, blew his fourth save of the season in the ninth inning and nearly wasted an outstanding outing by ace Felix Hernandez.
League gave up an game-tying RBI single to Coco Crisp with one out but avoided the loss when the Mariners scored twice in the 10th off Oakland closer Andrew Bailey.
Franklin Gutierrez scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by A's shortstop Cliff Pennington and Adam Kennedy doubled in Brendan Ryan, helping Seattle to its third straight win and sixth in nine games against Oakland this season.
``I love the way our kids came back after they tied it up,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ``League did a good job of keeping it tied and Gutierrez had his best at-bat of the year, and that's something that's something that should get him going.'
Gutierrez singled off Bailey (0-1) leading off the 10th and stole second with one out. Ryan then hit a soft grounder to second baseman Jemile Weeks, who flipped the ball to Pennington for the force at second before Pennington's relay sailed wide left of first base.
``I didn't get a grip on the ball,' Pennington said. ``I tried not to throw it but I threw it away. We just can't do that. We have to play defense behind our guys to win ballgames.'
Kennedy followed with his RBI double to make a winner of League (1-4), then Wright pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
``Perseverance, that's the first word that comes to mind,' Wright said. ``You just work hard and good things happen. Bullpen innings have been tough to come by for the Seattle Mariners lately (because) our starters have been doing such a good job. I'm just glad that we won the game.'
Kurt Suzuki homered for the A's, who couldn't muster much offense at all against Hernandez.
Hernandez allowed four hits and struck out 10 over eight innings. It's the fifth time this season and the 14th time in his career that Hernandez has reached double digits in strikeouts.
Seattle's ace, who dominated Oakland with a complete-game gem on opening day, did not walk a batter and gave up only an eighth inning solo home run to Kurt Suzuki while lowering his ERA to 1.09 against the A's this season.
``There are certain things you can do to try and beat a pitcher of that caliber when he's on, and he was certainly on,' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ``We tied the game (but) we weren't able to able to follow up.'
Seattle's win came after League failed to hold a 2-1 lead.
Weeks led off the ninth with a ground-rule double and was sacrificed to third. Crisp then hit a short fly to left but Carlos Peguero bobbled the ball, allowing Weeks to score the tying run.
It was the first run allowed by Seattle's bullpen since June 24.
Before that, the Mariners were cruising behind Dustin Ackley.
Ackley singled and scored an unearned run in the second then homered against Oakland starter Trevor Cahill leading off the seventh.
Cahill allowed two runs with four strikeouts over seven innings and was on the hook for the loss until the A's bailed him out in the ninth.
Instead, Bailey took the loss after giving up both runs in the 10th.
NOTES: Cahill has a 1.53 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this season. ... Melvin said there's a good chance OF Josh Willingham will accompany the team on its upcoming road trip and is cautiously optimistic that the injured veteran will return to Oakland's lineup before the All-Star break. Willingham, who recently completed a two-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, has been on the disabled list since June 18. ... Weeks, Oakland's rookie second baseman, was named co-winner of the American League rookie of the month after batting .309 with seven doubles, three triples and six RBIs in June. ... LHP Gio Gonzalez, the A's only All-Star this year, joined Toronto's Jose Bautista in being named AL co-players of the week. Gonzalez went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts last week.
The Associated Press News Service
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