James Kaprielian outlasted Robbie Ray in a brilliant pitchers’ duel as the host Oakland Athletics made it two straight over the playoff-contending Seattle Mariners, winning 2-1 on Wednesday.
The loss, Seattle’s fifth in six games, dropped the Mariners (81-67) a game closer to the Baltimore Orioles (77-71) in the American League wild-card race. Seattle currently occupies the third and final postseason spot but now leads Baltimore by just four games with 14 remaining.
After Kaprielian and Ray had matched zeros for 6 1/2 innings, the A’s took advantage of the Seattle bullpen to put up the game’s first two runs in the last of the seventh.
Usually reliable reliever Erik Swanson faced three batters, and all got on base. Jordan Diaz walked before pinch hitter Vimael Machin doubled to left, where a misplay by left fielder Jesse Winker allowed Diaz to score.
A single by Cristian Pache put runners at first and third. Andres Munoz came on to strike out Nick Allen, but Tony Kemp followed with an RBI single, giving the A’s a 2-0 lead.
Both runs were charged to Swanson (2-1), who had entered the game with a 1.12 ERA.
The A’s pulled Kaprielian (4-9) at that point, and the Mariners finally got on the scoreboard via a two-out solo home run by Luis Torrens off A.J. Puk in the eighth. The homer was Torrens’ second of the season.
Puk retired J.P. Crawford to complete the eighth. Domingo Acevedo, with the help of a double play, navigated the top of the Seattle order in the ninth for his fourth save, all of which have come in the past eight days.
Kaprielian, who had been winless with a 5.76 ERA in his previous six starts, allowed two hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings. He struck out six.
Seattle’s baserunners against Kaprielian came on a two-out single by Mitch Haniger in the first, a one-out walk by Cal Raleigh in the second and a two-out single by Julio Rodriguez in the sixth. None advanced past first base.
Ray was almost as good in his six innings, allowing three hits and three walks. He struck out seven, giving him 201 of the season, his fifth season with 200 or more in the past seven years.
He was pulled after throwing 101 pitches.
The Mariners’ Rodriguez and Athletics’ Diaz were the only players in the game with two hits on a night when there were a total of just 10 hits.