A's keep Brandon McCarthy in thoughts while defeating Mariners

SEATTLE -- A.J. Griffin not only felt the burden of trying to end the Oakland Athletics' three-game losing streak. There also was the weight of heavy hearts over teammate Brandon McCarthy.

McCarthy, the A's 29-year-old pitcher, remained behind in a Bay Area hospital after taking a line drive to the head in Wednesday's game. He suffered an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture and had two hours of surgery to relieve pressure. He is in stable condition.

"He's in all of our thoughts now and we just hope he's OK. It's kind of scary," said Griffin, the rookie right-hander who focused well enough to help the A's beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Friday night.

Griffin allowed one run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven. George Kottaras hit a three-run homer, Cliff Pennington had a season-high four hits and the A's chased Felix Hernandez after 4 2/3 innings.

Hernandez (13-7) threw 96 pitches in his shortest outing since May 16, when he went 3 2/3 innings at Cleveland. He gave up five earned runs, 11 hits -- matching his season high -- walked one and struck out four.

It was the second straight loss for the 2010 Cy Young Award winner. He had been 9-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his previous 15 starts since June 17, with five shutouts, including a perfect game on Aug. 15.

"You know as a starting pitcher and you have Felix on the other side, you better be pretty good," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That puts a little added pressure on the opposing pitcher. I know he'll probably say it doesn't, but everyone knows who Felix is, especially the way he's been pitching the last couple months."

Griffin (5-0), in his 10th start this season, has also pitched well the past couple months. He has yet to lose and now has a 3-0 record, a 1.54 ERA, and a .218 opponent batting average in four road starts.

"You just have to worry about your job. You have no control over what (Hernandez) does out there," Griffin said. "I just try to pitch the best game I can, do the best I can, keep us in the game and we did that."

The A's gained a game on Texas in the AL West, now trailing by 4 1/2. The A's, Yankees and Orioles are all within a half-game of each other on top of the wild-card standings.

"It was one of those games," Hernandez said. "Every pitch was up. I fell behind a couple of times -- well, not a couple, a lot of times -- and they just made me pay. All my pitches. It was not my day today."

Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk in the fourth inning and Stephen Drew singled to set up Kottaras' three-run shot, on a 1-1 pitch from Hernandez. It was Kottaras' fourth home run.

"It was down a little bit, like middle in, and he got that one pretty good," Hernandez said.

Melvin said Kottaras' shot was "the type of home run that puts more runs on the board than they actually do. To get to 4-1 against Felix feels like a 10-run homer."

Kottaras said the home run "put us all at ease a little bit."

"Those things (McCarthy's injury) are going to happen," Kottaras added. "You try to turn the page, take one game at a time, the past is the past. We came here and played hard like we always do and put some good at-bats together and came out on top today.

"It's a sad situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. We're happy to hear that he's progressing. It's a slow progression, but it's in the right direction."

The A's touched Hernandez for two runs in the fifth. Donaldson had an RBI double into the left-field corner, as Brandon Moss scored from first. Drew followed with a run-scoring single to right, ending Hernandez's night.

The A's pushed across an unearned run in the first. Seth Smith reached on a one-out single. With two outs, Yoenis Cespedes blooped a single to right, but Thames overran the ball and Smith was waved home on the error.

The Mariners got that run back in the second. Michael Saunders led off with a single to center. With two outs, Luis Jimenez walked and Saunders scored on Brandon Ryan's single to right.

Game notes
The A's will start Dan Straily on Tuesday to fill the spot in the rotation for injured McCarthy. Straily, who was with the big club earlier this season, was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. "I think he has been through all the 'firsts.' He knows what it's all about up here," Melvin said. "We're not afraid to throw young pitchers out there. We have a lot of young starters in the rotation right now. We'll just add him to that mix." ... The Mariners started CF Franklin Gutierrez and LF Saunders, a rare game in which both played. Each was coming off an injury, while Gutierrez has been out most of the season with various injuries. "We've essentially got two center fielders out there, which is nice," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ... Jimenez, the Mariners' 30-year-old rookie call-up, got his first major league hit, a single in the fourth.