SEATTLE (AP) — James Paxton struck out a major league-high 16 in seven dominant innings, but the Seattle bullpen blew a late lead and the Oakland Athletics rallied past the Mariners 3-2 Wednesday night.
Paxton was overpowering in arguably the finest performance of his career, posting the highest strikeout total by a Seattle pitcher since Randy Johnson fanned 19 on Aug. 8, 1997. He got 14 A’s on swinging strikeouts.
Paxton left with a 2-0 lead. Jed Lowrie hit a two-run homer off Juan Nicasio in the eighth inning, then Mark Canha opened the ninth with a home run against Edwin Diaz (0-1). Diaz had allowed just one earned run in 15 appearances this season.
The left-handed Paxton was the fourth different pitcher in Mariners history to strike out at least 16 in a game, joining Johnson, Mike Moore and Mark Langston. Johnson struck out 19 twice, 18 once, and 16 twice in his Mariners career, while Moore and Langston reached the mark once.
But none of those other performances were as efficient as Paxton. He threw 80 strikes among his 105 pitches, gave up five hits and walked one.
Seattle went to Nicasio in the eighth and trouble arrived quickly. Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce lined a ground-rule double with one out and three pitches later Lowrie’s shot to nearly the same part of the yard had a little more elevation, clipping the top of the fence and bounding over. Canha’s homer was his fifth of the season and came on the second pitch of the ninth inning.
Seattle led 2-0 after Ryon Healy’s solo homer and Jean Segura’s RBI single in the third inning. But Seattle never padded the lead and missed chances with the bases loaded in both the eighth and ninth innings.
In both innings Seattle benefited by replay, but couldn’t capitalize against Blake Treinen. Segura’s double and an intentional walk to Robinson Cano loaded the bases in the eighth, but Treinen (2-1) struck out Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger. In the ninth, a replay review deemed Dee Gordon safe with two outs to load the bases but Segura grounded out to end it.