SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais sat pitcher Roenis Elias down at the beginning of the season and delivered a powerful message: You belong here.
The long reliever showed again Tuesday why Servais had such confidence in him, pitching the Mariners out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning with a strikeout to preserve Mike Leake’s win, then ending the game with another strikeout seven outs later in a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
“We sat down with him early and tried to simplify some things with him,” Servais said. “And we flat out told him, ‘Hey, you’re on the team, just go pitch.’ It’s amazing when guys hear that, because he’s never had that happen before. He’s taken it and has got a lot of confidence and has continued to grow.”
Elias showed how much on Tuesday. He recorded his 300th career strikeout and earned his fifth save — the first save of at least 2 1/3 innings in a one-run game by a Mariners pitcher since Bob Wells did it in 1997. The performance helped Leake (3-4) earn the win and sent the A’s to their third straight loss and fourth in their last six games.
“That’s when he’s at his best, when you can run him out there and let him face nine, 10 hitters,” Servais said. “He really saved the game for us — literally.”
The Mariners built a home run-powered 4-2 lead through six innings on solo homers by Daniel Vogelbach and Tim Beckham in the second inning and a two-run, tie-breaking homer in the fifth inning by Mitch Haniger. The outfielder’s 11th home run wiped out a two-run throwing error by Beckham in the top of the inning that allowed the A’s to tie the game 2-2.
Leake was extremely efficient, allowing five hits while striking out six with one walk. But he gave up a weak one-out double to Stephen Piscotty that dropped in front of right fielder Jay Bruce in the seventh, then an RBI single to Robbie Grossman to put the game in jeopardy. Reliever Corey Gearin gave up a single, then walked a batter on four straight pitches to load the bases before Elias was called to the mound.
He struck out pinch-hitter Chad Pinder on three pitches to end the threat and had no intention of sitting down after that.
“I felt that once I came in to get that out in the seventh inning, I knew the rest of the game would be up to me,” Elias said.
A’s starter Brett Anderson (4-3) gave up just six hits and struck out five in six innings. But the Mariners hit him hard, sending several balls to the warning track in addition to their three homers. Seattle improved to 15-7 when hitting at least two home runs and has scored more than half its runs (125 of 240) on its league-best 82 homers.
In the end, though, it wasn’t the home runs that bothered Anderson. It was the walk he issued to ninth hitter J.P. Crawford — one batter before Haniger put the game away.
“The biggest thing is the one walk to Crawford,” he said. “Even if I give up a solo homer to Haniger there I feel like the offense has a good chance to make up the one run, and ultimately they did, but there was a guy on base. That’s the most frustrating part is the one walk came back to haunt me in the end.”
Mariners 3B Kyle Seager will play third base Wednesday for the first time since hand surgery in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Tacoma in Las Vegas. Seager was 1 of 4 as the designated hitter in his first appearance for the club on Tuesday. He’s eligible to return from the injured list on May 25. . Servais expects 2B Dee Gordon to return to the starting lineup on Thursday against Minnesota. Gordon, hit by a pitch on the right hand May 9 against the Yankees, was available to pinch hit in Tuesday’s game. . Utility player Dylan Moore fielded the ball and was expected to take batting practice Tuesday for the first time since a wrist contusion caused by a pitch put him on the injured list May 10. He’s eligible to return May 20.
Athletics: Oakland takes Wednesday off before sending RHP Chris Bassitt (1-1, 2.55) to the mound against Detroit. The A’s have scored two or fewer runs in three of Bassitt’s four starts this season.
Mariners: Seattle takes Wednesday off before sending RHP Erik Swanson (1-4, 6.35) to the mound against Minnesota. Swanson was brought in to replace injured pitcher Wade LeBlanc and will likely stay in the rotation now that Felix Hernandez is expected to miss four to six weeks with a right lat strain.
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