SEATTLE -- Dallas Braden wasn't perfect this time, but he was still awfully good.
The Oakland Athletics left-hander looked as good as he has in months against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, tossing a four-hitter for his fourth career complete game in a 5-1 victory.Braden (7-8) won for just the third time in nine decisions since throwing the 19th perfect game in major league history against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9. He went 0-5 in nine starts after his gem before landing on the disabled list from June 23 to July 20 with left elbow tightness."He's just sharp mentally and physically right now," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He had a real good changeup with two different speeds today. He was able to pitch inside enough to keep both lanes open for his fastball. He threw a lot of strikes."Braden was effective and efficient, throwing just 104 pitches and 69 strikes. He walked two and struck out six while improving to 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA since coming off the DL."He's got a really good changeup and got a lot of swings and misses on the changeup," said the Mariners' Russell Branyan. "He spotted his heater and had good command today."Mark Ellis supported him with three doubles and drove in three runs, most of the damage coming against Luke French (1-3). He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings.The Mariners had won the first two games in the series, Ellis playing a key role in each one. He hit into a triple play Monday, the first for the Mariners in 15 years, and struck out three times Tuesday against Felix Hernandez before finishing with a career-high three doubles."It was a series of threes -- triple play, three strikeouts and three doubles," Ellis said. "It was definitely an interesting series, as long as I get the three hits in there. But no more triple plays."Ellis had entered the game with just one extra-base hit over his previous 18 games."He's always been a guy who could split a gap, hit some doubles," Geren said. "He was just in extra-base-hit drought. They were all hit hard, too."Ellis hit the first double to open the second, stole third and scored when Coco Crisp hit a sharp single to left. The A's added a run in the fourth when Rajai Davis hit a one-out double into the left-field corner and Landon Powell lifted a two-out single into shallow center."The one to Powell was big," French said. "I had two strikes on him and two outs and was trying to go away and left it up and away. And he hit it. They took advantage of the mistakes and that was pretty much the game."The A's added two more runs in the fifth, when Ellis ripped a double down the third-base line.Just three Mariners reached base off Braden through the first six innings, but he still faced the minimum number of batters to that point. All three were wiped away with double plays.The Mariners finally put together a meager rally in the seventh, when Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Lopez singled. Branyan walked to load the bases with one out, and Franklin Gutierrez hit a sacrifice fly that was caught by left fielder Chris Carter on the warning track.Braden thought it was a grand slam."Absolutely. I was just thinking that I hope Carter is 7-foot-12 and had a shot to get over the fence and catch it," Braden said. "I thought [Gutierrez] got it."Casey Kotchman bounced out to first to end the threat, and Ellis finished the scoring with a RBI double in the eighth. It scored Cliff Pennington all the way from first.Ellis is hitting .423 (11-of-26) against Seattle this season.
A's right-hander Ben Sheets had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday. The club did not supply specifics on the surgery until 48 hours afterward. Sheets had been told that his ulnar collateral ligament was not involved, but Texas Rangers team surgeon Dr. Keith Meister found the UCL damage during the operation. He transferred the tendon along with repairing the flexor tendon and pronator tendon. Sheets signed a one-year deal with the A's this season. ... A's shortstop Adam Rosales left the game in the second with a hurt right ankle. Pennington replaced him. ... Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders missed starting his sixth straight game with a sore neck after his crash into the outfield wall Aug. 5. He did enter Monday's game as a pinch-runner.