SEATTLE (AP) -- Greg Smith and Brad Ziegler are rookies, yet they are already in step with the rest of the American League.
They love facing the Seattle Mariners.Smith allowed four hits over six innings for his first win since June, and Ziegler got out of his own bases loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth as the Athletics beat Seattle 2-0 on Thursday night.The win moved Oakland to 7-25 since the All-Star break.Smith (6-12), one of the 10 rookies on Oakland's current roster, is 1-0 with 12 scoreless innings in two starts against the Mariners. He's 5-12 with a 4.08 ERA against everyone else. He had six consecutive losses from June 30."I can't put my finger on it. If I could, I'd patent it," the 24-year-old said of his mini-mastery of the Mariners. "Maybe it's a lineup thing."Yeah, maybe.The Mariners (46-81) lost their seventh straight game and are an AL-worst 35 games under .500. They wasted a three-hit night from Ichiro Suzuki and a solid effort from converted reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-2), who allowed just four hits in a career-high seven innings.They are a major league-worst 12-27 against left-handed starters -- and will see three more in this weekend series. The A's have an all-lefty rotation for only the second time in Oakland history. The first time was the 1973 staff led by Vida Blue.Emil Brown homered in the sixth for Oakland. Carlos Gonzalez added an RBI single in the top of the ninth, after Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt was charged with an error for not handling a throw at second base when Seattle had Eric Patterson picked off first.Ziegler allowed a single by Jose Lopez, a double by former Athletic Tug Hulett and walked Jeff Clement to load the bases with one out in the ninth. But Ziegler got Betancourt, the No. 9 hitter, to chop a sinker into a game-ending double play for his fourth save with Suzuki in the on-deck circle.Ziegler has allowed just two runs in 44 innings this year, a 0.41 ERA. The lowest season ERA with a minimum of 30 innings in major league history is 0.38, by Boston's Buck O'Brien in 1911."I'm not going to say I wasn't thinking about Ichiro being on deck," Ziegler said. "But I know Betancourt is a better matchup for me."On July 10, Smith shut out Seattle on four hits over six innings before Ziegler entered the seventh and loaded the bases with two outs. He got out of that mess, too, one of his closest calls en route to a modern major league record 39 scoreless innings to begin a career.Rowland-Smith struck out six and walked three. He had a two-hit shutout with two outs in the sixth when Brown hit his first-pitch changeup for his 12th homer, clearing Oakland's bullpen bench beyond left field.Rowland-Smith rued the pitch choice."I threw changeups to the hitters before that. Maybe he was thinking I'd start him off with a changeup," he said.Plate umpire Bill Hohn called the next pitch to Frank Thomas a strike. Thomas, who had already been mad at Hohn for calling him out on strikes in the second inning and is on a career high-tying, 0-for-19 skid, angrily spun away from home plate and took a short walk. He was muttering without looking at the umpire when Hohn ejected him. The veteran designated hitter then became irate and had to be separated from Hohn by manager Bob Geren. Thomas tossed his bat over his right shoulder and threw hit batting helmet in the direction of the umpire as he stomped off the field."Just the old arguing balls and strikes, I guess," Geren said. "Frank's been around a long time, so he knows."Smith had his 14th pickoff of the season in the fourth, after he walked and then completely fooled Wladimir Balentien. That's the most by a major league pitcher since 1997, when Andy Pettitte had 14 for the Yankees.
Oakland All-Star RHP Justin Duchscherer and RHP Sean Gallagher went on the DL retroactive to Wednesday. Geren is optimistic Duchscherer, who has inflammation on his right hip that had surgery on it last summer, will be back next month. He's not so sure about Gallagher, who has shoulder fatigue. ... Brandon Morrow, the fifth overall pick in 2006 who was converted to a starter this month, struck out 10 and walked one in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits and two runs for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday. The Mariners may have Morrow make one more start there before adding him to the rotation.