France hits 2 homers, Gilbert goes 8 innings as Mariners edge reeling A’s 3-2
Ty France homered twice in his return to the lineup, Logan Gilbert pitched eight outstanding innings and the Seattle Mariners finished a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics with a 3-2 victory Thursday night.
Eugenio Suárez drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Garrett Acton in the eighth to push across the go-ahead run.
Oakland lost its eighth consecutive game and completed an 0-7 trip that began in Houston. The team’s 10-42 record matches the 1932 Boston Red Sox for the worst 52-game start since 1901, and its .192 win percentage projects to a 31-131 mark that would easily be the worst for a major league team since the 1899 Cleveland Spiders went 20-134.
The reeling A’s have dropped 16 of 18 overall and been swept in seven series this season.
Gilbert (3-2) allowed just three hits, including Seth Brown’s two-run homer in the first. He retired 15 straight batters during one stretch, and 22 of his last 23.
“I feel really confident out there,” Gilbert said. “Stuff like that happens, and sometimes it locks you in, too. You get hit in the mouth, and you’re ready to go back out there.”
PHOTOS: France hits 2 homers, Gilbert goes 8 innings as Mariners edge reeling A’s 3-2
The right-hander struck out six and walked none while throwing only 77 pitches – 59 for strikes. He became the second Seattle pitcher to go eight innings this season following George Kirby in a 1-0 loss April 27 at Philadelphia.
“Awesome job,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Logan, he’s rolling right now. He’s got all four pitches working, and he’s got a ton of confidence. It’s fun to watch.”
Paul Sewald fanned two in a perfect ninth, improving to 11 for 11 in save chances.
France was back in the lineup after taking a fastball from A’s reliever Trevor May off his left hand Tuesday. His first home run came in the bottom of the first off starter JP Sears to make it 2-1. France tied it in the sixth with a drive to left field off May.
“In my pregame work, I’ve been kind of getting on time for inside stuff,” France said. “They’ve been kind of hammering me in. My strength is when I’m going the opposite way, but they’re going to attack me and I’ve got to prepare for it. So the last few days I’ve been really trying to work on that in batting practice, and it paid off.”
France reached in the eighth on a fielder’s choice, when Oakland shortstop Nick Allen purposely let a popup drop in shallow left field in order to force out José Caballero at second base. France went to third on Julio Rodríguez’s two-out double off Acton and, after an intentional walk to Jarred Kelenic loaded the bases, Suárez walked to force in the decisive run.
Richard Lovelady (0-3) took the loss after issuing a leadoff walk to Caballero in the eighth.
The four-game sweep was the first of the season for the Mariners, who are 7-0 against Oakland.
“Four-game sweep, hard to do,” Servais said. “I know Oakland has got a young team and things have been hard for them, but our guys find a way to win, driven by our starting pitching.”
Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (finger) was back with the A’s after starting at Tacoma for Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday. Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said Blackburn will fly back to Oakland and there’s a good chance he’ll be back in the rotation soon.
Mariners: OF AJ Pollock did not start after leaving Wednesday night’s game with a leg cramp. … Suárez was back in the starting lineup. He was removed late in Wednesday’s game after taking a foul ball off his foot.
Athletics: RHP James Kaprielian will start Friday against the visiting Astros. Kaprielian is 0-4 with an 8.64 ERA this season, with 30 strikeouts and 19 walks over 28 innings.
Mariners: Kirby (5-3, 2.62 ERA) pitches Friday against Pittsburgh. He has 47 strikeouts against just five walks in nine starts this season.
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