SEATTLE (AP) -- For a team that has struggled to win even with its starters on the field, it just figures that two bench players would lead the Mariners to a victory.
Kenji Johjima and Miguel Cairo went a combined 5-for-6 at the plate and scored four runs, helping Seattle to an 8-4 victory and a split of a four-game series with the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.Relegated to the backup catcher role with the promotion of top prospect Jeff Clement, Johjima went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a solo home run."It seems like [Johjima] and [Adrian] Beltre can't seem to get a break," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "He hits balls that off the bat you are thinking double and the next thing you know, they've got him. It's very frustrating for a hitter to go through that."The Athletics had forged an early two run lead behind the pitching of starter Dan Meyer and two solo home runs from Jack Hannahan off Mariners starter Felix Hernandez.However, Johjima was able to spark a rally in the bottom of the third inning. He drew a leadoff walk on nine pitches after Meyer had sat down the first six Mariners in order, and Bryan LaHair followed with a walk of his own before Cairo hit a two-run triple to the wall."I hit it pretty good," Cairo said. "I guess the grass was kind of wet too and it kind of slid and took off. It was nice to get a clutch hit and help the team get a win."Ichiro followed with an infield single that scored Cairo and gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead.After a solo home run from Rob Bowen tied the game 3-all, Johjima stepped to the plate and hit a 2-1 pitch from Meyer over the left field wall to put Seattle back on top."I come prepared everyday, that's all I have in mind," Johjima said through a translator. "I don't prepare myself to be a backup either. I wake up at the same time and I eat at the same time as well. I prepare for the game the same way."Cairo went 2-for-3, scored two runs and drove in two as he filled in at third for Beltre, who has been resting a sore left shoulder. He also flashed leather in the sixth inning, snagging a broken-bat grounder from Frank Thomas behind third base and throwing across the diamond to get the out."He got a couple huge hits for us today," Riggleman said. "He came up big defensively for us. He and Willie [Bloomquist] have been kind of like that for the ball club all year, just two really valuable pieces that, if we had been winning more ball games, I think everybody would really recognize how valuable those guys are."Hernandez (8-8) allowed three runs over six innings, while fighting a case of strep throat, to win for the first time in more than a month.All three runs against Hernandez (8-8) came on homers, but he held Oakland to only one other hit while striking out seven to capture his first victory since beating Cleveland on July 18."I haven't won a game for a long time and it feels great," Hernandez said with a grin. "I've got to go out there and do the best I can again and try to win another one."Roy Corcoran allowed two runners to reach base in the ninth, but J.J. Putz forced pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki to flyout to right field to pick up his ninth save of the year.Hannahan hit two of the home runs off Hernandez, once in the first inning and again in the third to give the A's an early 2-0 lead.Jose Lopez broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning, taking a 1-0 offering from Oakland reliever Kirk Saarloos over the left-field wall for a three-run home run that pushed the lead to 7-3.Meyer (0-2) went five innings and allowed four runs and three hits in his second start of the year. Saarloos allowed four runs in two innings of relief.Eric Patterson drove in a run in the seventh for the A's, but Ibanez singled home Miguel Cairo in the bottom of the inning to restore the four-run lead.
Clement sat a second straight day with a lingering knee injury. ... A's LF Jack Cust returned to the lineup after leaving Friday night's game with blurred vision. 2B Mark Ellis continues to be day-to-day with a sore right shoulder. ...Hannahan had his first career multihomer game. ... Lopez matched a career-high with his 11th home run, tying his total from last year. ... Johjima's home run was Seattle's 100th of the season. ... Oakland has gone 12 consecutive series without winning a series, which is the second longest streak in Oakland history. ... A's C Rob Bowen hit his first home run since August 8, 2007. ... Hernandez struck out seven batters for the 11th time this season. ... Seattle has allowed at least one home run in 15 consecutive games.