OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — An outcome that for months has been a foregone conclusion is official.
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched into the seventh inning to match his career high with 15 wins, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Friday night.
The loss officially eliminates the A’s from the AL West race.
Their Game 140 exit from the division race ties the 1997 team’s for the third-earliest in franchise history.
A team looking for glimmers of encouragement going into next year found a few on Friday.
Bruce Maxwell had a career-high three hits, including an RBI double, while rookie Joey Wendle singled twice.
A’s starter Daniel Mengden (1-7) settled down after a shaky start. He allowed two runs over five innings, walked two and struck out six.
“(Maxwell’s) kind of in the same situation as me and some of the other young guys are, just trying to get settled in, get our feet wet and feel comfortable,” Mengden said.
Robinson Cano drew a two-out walk in the first and scored on Nelson Cruz’s double following a 13-pitch at-bat with Mengden. Cruz fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and fouled off six consecutive pitches before doubling off the wall in right-center.
“You could tell the Cruz at-bat took a lot out of (Mengden),” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Fouling that many pitches off and then doubling.
“It didn’t appear like we were going to get five innings out of him, certainly his last two innings were by far his best. He attacked the strike zone a lot more and you could see his confidence went up in the last couple of innings. He can hang his hat on those last two innings, he pitched well.”
Iwakuma (15-11) allowed two runs over 6 2-3 innings to snap a four-game losing streak and become the third Japanese-born pitcher to have multiple 15-win seasons. Iwakuma, who also had 15 wins in 2014, struck out five and walked one.
“That’s what we’ve seen out of him basically all year,” Melvin said of Iwakuma. “Just when you feel like you have a beat on him and you’re going to score some runs off him he makes big pitches when he has to. He hasn’t been perfect against us but he’s (given up) a couple of runs, and they score more than that and he ends up winning.”
Nori Aoki and Mike Zunino homered to help the Mariners move within 3 1/2 games of the second AL wild card.
Aoki hit his second home run of the season and first since May 28 on Mengden’s first pitch in the third.
Zunino homered off Daniel Coulombe leading off the seventh.
The A’s scored in the fifth on Wendle’s RBI single then pulled within 3-2 when Maxwell doubled in Max Muncy in the seventh to chase Iwakuma.
Dan Altavilla and Steve Cishek combined to retire four batters for Seattle. Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
A’s reliever Sean Doolittle had another solid outing in his second game back since coming off a two-month stint on the DL on Sept. 1.
The left-hander had two strikeouts against the heart of the Seattle’s order on Friday.
“I think today pretty much solidified where we feel he is,” Melvin said, noting that he expects to use Doolittle in a setup role soon.
“Not only was he throwing 95 (mph), he threw a good slider to (Kyle) Seager. He seems to be on his way back.”
Iwakuma joins Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matsuzaka as the only Japanese-born pitchers with multiple 15-win seasons. Nomo won 16 games three times for the Los Angeles Dodgers while Matsuzaka won 15 in 2007 and 18 in 2008, both times with Boston.
A’s: Francisco Rodriguez underwent shoulder surgery earlier Friday and will be sidelined for at least four months. Rodriguez had a 3.74 ERA in 34 games as a reliever for Oakland this season. … LHP Sean Manaea, out since Aug. 29 with a back strain, will throw an extended bullpen Saturday before the team decides when he’ll start again.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (10-5) starts against the A’s on Saturday looking to continue his recent streak of strong outings since coming off the DL. Hernandez is 6-1 over his last 10 starts.
A’s: RHP Kendall Graveman (10-9) goes for Oakland seeking his first win in three starts against Seattle this season. Graveman has a 2.64 ERA at home that is the third-lowest in the AL.
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