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Gonzalez, A’s Shut Down Mariners To End Season

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Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 28, 2011 in Seattle. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 28, 2011 in Seattle. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (CBS / AP) — Gio Gonzalez closed the season with a flourish as the Oakland lefty allowed just two hits in eight innings to help the Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Gonzalez (16-12) gave up just one hit through six innings, a liner into right field by Chris Gimenez leading off the third inning. After following with a walk to Ichiro Suzuki, Gonzalez retired 11 of the next 12 batters. He struck out the side in the sixth and finished with a career-high tying 11 strikeouts.

Jai Miller homered to right-center field in the second inning off Seattle starter Anthony Vasquez (1-6) who lasted just two innings. Seattle finished year with a team-record 16 shutouts this season. It was the first homer of Miller’s career.

The Mariners and A’s will see each other again on March 28 and 29 in Tokyo as they will become the latest teams to open a season playing in Japan. The announcement of the two-game series was made on Wednesday.

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Gonzalez could be starting one of those games for the A’s after finishing 2011 on a roll. He won his final four starts and seven of his final eight to top the 15 wins he had in his rookie season of 2010.

Gonzalez tied a career-high in strikeouts set last year against the Chicago White Sox and walked three batters. He had at least one strikeout in six of his eight innings and finished the season with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts.

Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 26 chances.

Miller came up from Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 11 but displayed his power throughout the Pacific Coast League this season. Miller finished second in the league with 32 homers this season and was fourth in slugging percentage at .558. But he also led the PCL with 179 strikeouts, a feature he showed with a strikeout in the fourth. Miller was robbed of extra bases in the seventh inning when Suzuki made a leaping catch on the warning track in right field.

Seattle’s Alex Liddi doubled with two outs in the seventh on a shot to left-center field that Coco Crisp nearly made a diving backhanded catch. But Gonzalez got Kyle Seager to ground out to end the inning. It was one of just a handful of threats the offensively challenged Mariners made, three times getting a runner to second base and failing to advance them further.

The Mariners finished the season with consecutive shutouts and didn’t score after the seventh inning on Monday night.

It fit with Seattle’s season-long struggles at the plate. Suzuki ended his year with 184 hits after going hitless in the finale. It’s the first time in his 11-year career Suzuki failed to reach 200 hits and he ended the season with a career-low .272 batting average.

Vasquez was one of six Seattle pitchers to see the mound for the finale. After Vasquez, Seattle’s bullpen combined to give up just three hits and no runs over the final seven innings.

NOTES: Seattle finished the season with a crowd of 20,173. The Mariners unofficial season total was 1,896,929 in 81 home games. It’s the first time since moving into Safeco Field the Mariners have failed to draw 2 million fans. The last time Seattle was under 2 million in a full 81-game home schedule was 1989. … Gonzalez became the first A’s pitcher to win five games in a month since July 2005 when Barry Zito won six and Rich Harden won five. Gonzalez was 5-1 in September. … Seattle’s previous record of 15 shutouts was set in 1978, 1983, 1990 and 2010. … In one of the stranger pitching lines, Vasquez finished the season with 13 home runs allowed and 13 strikeouts in 29 1-3 innings this season.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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