It might be time to start viewing the Mariners’ bullpen as a reliable strength Monday’s shutdown relay effort closed out a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Vidal Nuno, Nick Vincent, Joel Peralta and Steve Cishek combined for three scoreless innings after starter Nathan Karns weakened after being staked to a three-run lead to start the seventh inning.
The unit now has a 2.41 ERA, and Cishek is perfect in seven save opportunities. Not bad through 25 games for a revamped relief corps that entered the season viewed as major question mark.
Oakland starter Kendall Graveman (1-3) gave up three runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He exited after Nori Aoki’s one-out double in the seventh inning.
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After Mark Rzepcynski replaced Graveman, Aoki stole third and came home on a wild throw by catcher Stephen Vogt for a 4-1 lead.
That turned into the lead run when Oakland jumped Karns (3-1) in the bottom of the inning.
Josh Reddick led off with a double, and Khris Davis followed with his second homer of the game — a 443-foot boomer to center.
When Vogt then doubled to right, the Mariners went to the bullpen for Nuno, who retired Chris Coghlan on a pop. Vincent replaced Nuno and held the lead by retiring the next two batters.
Peralta pitched a one-two-three eighth inning, which got the game to Cishek.
The Athletics opened the scoring when Davis turned on a 1-0 breaking ball from Karns for a leadoff homer in the second inning. It was a 383-foot drive to left for Davis’ fourth homer of the season.
Robinson Cano’s leadoff off double in the fourth inning led to the tying runs when Nelson Cruz and Adam Lind followed with singles.
Cano’s leadoff single in the sixth turned into the go-ahead run when Kyle Seager delivered a two-out double into the right-field corner. Chris Iannetta followed with an RBI single for a 3-1 lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Shortstop Ketel Marte, playing on the right side of second base, speared Chris Coghlan’s line drive in the second inning and turned it into a double play.
Marte also turned a double play on Billy Burns’ liner in the third inning and got a force at second base on Mark Canha’s grounder into the deep hole in the fifth inning.
Also: Nelson Cruz had singles in each of his first three at-bats…Robinson Cano started two run-scoring innings with leadoff hits. He finished with three hits in four at-bats and raised his average to .257…Nori Aoki had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances.