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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 24, 2008 2:41 PM

Oakland Athletics at Mariners: 08/24 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Felix Hernandez has a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning after Kenji Johjima hit his first home run since the Clinton era to snap a tie score in the bottom of the fifth. Seattle scored three off Dan Meyer in a bizarre third inning. Two walks were followed by the first hit of the game by the M's, a lined shot to right center by Miguel Cairo. Right fielder Emil Brown chugged to the ball -- which looked to be a single -- then let it scoot right on by him for a two-run triple. Ichiro would get Cairo home on an infield single that made it 3-2.

But then Rob Bowen hit the third solo homer given up on the day given up by Hernandez to tie it until Johjima put Seattle back in front. Hernandez nearly had a heap of trouble in the sixth when he issued a leadoff walk, then saw Frank Thomas rip one up the third base line for what looked like extra bases. But a diving Cairo snagged the ball at third, got up and managed to throw out the jogging Thomas at first base. That's the defensive gem of the day so far and huge.

It allows Hernandez to get a "quality start" of six innings, three earned runs or fewer allowed. Hernandez is at 106 pitches, so I doubt he comes back out in the seventh. So, the same result as Jarrod Washburn put up on Saturday against the same A's club. With a couple of extra homers given up. Let's see if he escapes with a better fate -- like a win.

There were 13 "quality starts" of at least six innings pitched, three runs or fewer allowed, thrown in the big leagues last night. Out of the 13, 10 of the pitchers picked up the win. Two others earned no-decisions. And one pitcher, only one, lost the game. That would be Washburn.

On Thursday night, there were 16 quality starts tossed by pitchers. Of those 16, six resulted in wins, seven in no-decisions and only three in defeats. One of those who took the loss was Ryan Rowland-Smith.

To summarize:

Two nights of baseball

29 quality starts

4 losses

2 losses by Mariners starters

Hernandez had better pray today.

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By the way, Mark Lowe has a bruised right foot after getting drilled by a Frank Thomas liner in last night's seventh inning. Raul Ibanez, above, offers to show TV analyst Bill Krueger what it feels like. Lowe was hobbling around on crutches in the clubhouse pre-game. X-Rays proved negative, which means he has no broken bones, which was the initial concern. The M's might have to make a DL move, but a lot will depend on what Hernandez and Miguel Batista do these next few days. In other words, how much work will the bullpen get? Don't forget, there are some off-days coming up and then September rosters can be expanded. So, the next couple of days are critical to get through before the innings concern is lessened.

1:48 p.m.: Felix Hernandez trails 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning. Jack Hannahan hit his second solo homer of the day off him in the top of the third. Seattle has yet to get a hit off Dan Meyer. Six up and six down.

1:13 p.m.: Jack Hannahan launched a Hernandez pitch over the wall in right field to give Oakland a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Ballgame over? Let's just say Hernandez might have had that sinking feeling as he watched the ball land in the bleachers.

Jim Riggleman, below, calls the shot pre-game.

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