Suzuki backs Duchscherer in return to mound for A's

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The night began with Justin Duchscherer's long-awaited return to the mound and was capped by a game-ending RBI double by Kurt Suzuki.

What made the postgame celebration possible was an impressive debut by a hometown kid.

Tyson Ross pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out Ken Griffey Jr. in his major league debut to help the Oakland Athletics rally behind a pair of RBI doubles by Suzuki to beat the Seattle Mariners 6-5 on Wednesday night.

"What stands out is Tyson Ross," manager Bob Geren said. "Here's a kid who makes his big league debut in a really tight game. Ideally you try to break a rookie in in a game that's not close."

But this season-opening series hasn't provided those types of games, with all three contests heading into the ninth with the score tied.

Ross, who went to high school in Oakland and college at UC Berkeley, came into this game to relieve Duchscherer with two outs in the sixth inning. He struck out Rob Johnson to begin his career, keeping the Mariners' lead at 5-4.

After Suzuki tied the game in the seventh with his first double, Ross struck out Griffey in the eighth to help set the stage for the winning rally.

"That was insane," Ross said. "He's someone I idolized since being a kid and there he was standing 60 feet away. I'm happy I got the strikeout. That was a trip for me."

With Kevin Kouzmanoff running from first with one out in the ninth, Suzuki hit a drive to the wall in left field off Mark Lowe (0-1). Milton Bradley reached up to try to make the catch, but the ball appeared to glance off his glove and hit off the wall. As the ball rolled away, Kouzmanoff raced around to score easily on Suzuki's seventh career game-ending hit.

"We have 19 games against these guys," Bradley said. "It will be like this every night. In that situation, Kurt is the last guy you want to see. He's swinging the bat well and carrying the team on his back.

That provided a happy ending to a night that began with the return of Duchscherer to the mound. Duchscherer missed all of last season while recovering from elbow surgery and dealing with a bout of clinical depression. He pitched into the sixth in his first appearance in nearly 20 months and ended up with a no-decision.

Jerry Blevins (1-0) got the final out of the ninth to earn the win.

Bradley earlier hit a two-run homer for his first hit with the Mariners. Rajai Davis hit a solo shot for Oakland.

After giving up Bradley's homer in the first inning, Duchscherer retired nine straight batters starting in the second and took a 3-2 lead into the fifth after an error by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki allowed a run to score in the fourth.

Franklin Gutierrez started a rally for Seattle when he singled and advanced to second on one of Duchscherer's two wild pitches in the game. Jack Wilson tied the game with a one-out single and later scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Chone Figgins.

After the A's tied the game in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Daric Barton, the Mariners took the lead for good in the sixth when Jose Lopez singled with two outs, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Gutierrez's single to center on Duchscherer's 101st pitch of the night.

"We played a good game, we manufactured a lot of runs but unfortunately we lost the ballgame," Lowe said.

Duchscherer said he was disappointed in his outing, saying his velocity, life and movement were all far from where they were before he was sidelined.

"It's difficult because the last time I pitched I was really good," Duchscherer said. "Today I didn't feel like I was there. Not only am I battling the physical part of it, but I'm battling the mental and emotional part of it too because you have to be patient. It doesn't come overnight, but I want it to."

Duchscherer allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings in his first major league appearance since leaving a game in Minnesota on Aug. 18, 2008, with an injured hip. The two-time All-Star then had elbow surgery last March before his depression ended any chance at a comeback last season.

Game notes
Ichiro Suzuki singled in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak against Oakland to 23 games. ... Seattle LHP Cliff Lee threw off a bullpen mound for the first time since straining his abdominal muscle. Lee threw eight pitches from flat ground and eight off the mound. Manager Don Wakamatsu said says Lee will throw 25 pitches off the rubber on Friday. ... Athletics reliever Michael Wuertz (right shoulder tendinitis) threw off a mound before the game and could be ready for a minor league rehab assignment sometime next week.