SEATTLE (AP) — The Oakland Athletics are surging into the All-Star break and Brett Anderson continues to turn out one quality start after another.
Anderson had another solid performance pitching into the seventh inning, Franklin Barreto hit his first home run of the season and Robbie Grossman added a pinch-hit, two-run double in the ninth inning as the A’s beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2 on Friday night.
The A’s won for the sixth time in seven games and Anderson put a cap his strong first half of the season.
“I’ve always been confident in my ability to get people out whenever I’ve been healthy. Luckily, aside from a few nicks and knacks here and there, I’ve been able to go out there and give us a chance to win, for the most part,” Anderson said. “It’s always nice to be healthy. I feel confident in myself whenever I am healthy and hopefully I can continue that in the second half.”
Friday marked Anderson’s 18th start of the season, which is the fourth most for any season in his career. He managed just 17 starts last year. And he continued his strong run over the past month, pitching into the seventh inning for the fifth time in six starts. Anderson (9-5) allowed two earned runs or less for the third time in his past four outings. His only outlier of the past month was a start against Tampa Bay when he allowed seven runs in three innings. Anderson struck out four and walked none.
“He comes right back with two really good outings after really the only bad outing he’s had all year for us,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can tell with him, if the balls are on the ground early in the game he’s going to pitch well and that was the case.”
Oakland took advantage of two errors by Seattle right fielder Domingo Santana on one play in the seventh inning to take the lead and cost Mariners lefty Yusei Kikuchi a chance at a victory in his best start since early May. Grossman provided insurance in the ninth lining a two-out shot off the wall against reliever Dan Altavilla.
Kikuchi (4-6) pitched seven innings for just the third time this season and first since May 8 against the Yankees. He struck out five and allowed four hits. Seattle manager Scott Servais was impressed with Kikuchi’s mix of pitches and using his changeup more.
“The last two games actually I’ve been feeling pretty good, so I wanted to end the first half of the season on a good note,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter.
Barreto got to Kikuchi for a solo home run in the third inning, but it was the only mistake made by the Japanese rookie until the seventh inning. Matt Olson led off the inning with a ground-rule double and Khris Davis singled to right field. Santana failed to come up with the ball cleanly and after briefly stopping at third, Olson scored. Santana’s throw to the plate skipped past catcher Tom Murphy and Davis advanced to second. Two batters later, Davis scored on Ramon Laureano’s sacrifice fly to take the lead.
Murphy hit his ninth homer of the season for Seattle leading off the fifth. But the Mariners had just one hit after Murphy’s homer and newly named All-Star Liam Hendriks pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
“To put a string of four, five hits together, good at-bats … it has been a struggle. It’s why we’re not scoring runs. That’s what it takes,” Servais said.
Hendriks was added to the American League All-Star team on Friday as a replacement for Charlie Morton. Hendriks started a pair of games for the A’s, but has become a major key to Oakland’s bullpen. Hendriks has a 0.96 ERA as a reliever.
It’s a stunning turnaround for the 30-year-old who was designated for assignment by the A’s in June 2018, and after a stint in the minors became one of Oakland’s most important arms during its run to the playoffs last season.
“Where he’s been, where he is now, it’s pretty incredible,” Melvin said.
Oakland recalled RHP Paul Blackburn from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned RHP Tanner Anderson. Blackburn was an All-Star for Las Vegas, but gave up five runs over three innings in his only appearance with the A’s this season. Anderson as 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA in five starts with Oakland.
Seattle added RHP Matt Wisler to its roster following a trade with San Diego. The Mariners designated for assignment Mike Wright to clear a roster spot for Wisler.
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt (5-3) makes his 14th start, setting a new career-best. Bassitt is 3-2 with a 5.31 ERA over his past eight starts.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (9-7) makes his final start before the All-Star break. Gonzales is 4-1 in his last five starts since June 7. He has a 3.07 ERA in those five starts.