Following a marathon performance and a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees, the Oakland Athletics get back to work Friday against the AL West-rival Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game series.
The Athletics completed the sweep of the visiting Yankees with Thursday's 3-2 win in 18 innings and Nate Freiman's RBI single off future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera extended Oakland's home winning streak to 11 games.
"It was very taxing even winning the game. To lose could have been demoralizing," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Oakland, which beat the Angels in 19 innings on April 29, became the first American League team to play two 18-inning games in one season since the A's and Washington did so in 1971.
Robinson Cano gave New York a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a home run, but the Athletics came back with two runs in the third. Chris Young scored on a Derek Norris groundout and Seth Smith, who had a team-high three hits, added an RBI double. Scoring was put on hold until Freiman came through against Rivera in the 18th with the bases loaded and one out.
"There are a couple of people that, regardless of the team you root for, you can't really root against -- Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera," Freiman told the club's website. "I've been a Red Sox fan my whole life, and I've always admired the way Rivera's carried himself throughout his career, the professionalism and class. So that was a big thrill."
The A's used seven pitchers and Jesse Chavez pitched the final 5 2/3 innings for the win. Jarrod Parker was on point over the first eight innings and allowed two runs and five hits in the no-decision.
"I knew I was going to be in it for the long haul," Chavez said afterward. "I was going to tell Bob I wanted to go until we scored. I knew we didn't have anyone else. I didn't want to burn one of our starters."
Oakland has won 10 of 13 and 21 of its last 26 games and will send Tommy Milone to the mound Friday. Had Chavez ran into trouble in Thursday's win, Milone may have been called on in relief, but he was able to stay rested for the Mariners and looks to keep his unbeaten streak intact.
Milone is 3-0 in his past five outings and did not figure into the decision of Saturday's 4-1 loss against the Chicago White Sox, as he struck out seven and yielded one run in seven innings of work. In 13 starts this season, the left- hander is 6-5 with a 3.69 ERA. Milone is 1-1 in two starts against Seattle this season and 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts in this series.
Seattle will open a seven-game road trip Friday against the A's and LA Angels and just went 5-5 on a recent homestand.
The Mariners were denied a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with Wednesday's 6-1 loss at Safeco Field. Houston scored all six of its runs in the top of the ninth inning after the hosts grabbed a 1-0 lead the inning before. Tom Wilhelmsen was dealt the loss for giving up five runs in the ninth and wasted an exceptional performance from Jeremy Bonderman, who struck out five and walked two over eight shutout innings.
"Tom is one of the best in the game so I don't have any problem with that move at all," Bonderman said of being removed to start the ninth. "Ninety-nine percent of the time he's probably going to seal it down. It's just part of the game."
Nick Franklin's two-out RBI single in the eighth gave Seattle a short-lived 1-0 lead. Franklin ended with three hits for the Mariners, losers in seven of the last 12 contests.
Joe Saunders will handle pitching duties for the Mariners Friday and he is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Yankees on Saturday. He was reached for all three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, dropping his record to 4-6 in 13 starts with a 5.12 earned run average.
Saunders, a left-hander, is 1-2 in his past five outings and defeated Oakland on May 12 with a 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 win. The A's, though, defeated Saunders in his season debut on April 3 at the Coliseum, where they tagged him for four runs in four innings of a 6-2 decision. Saunders, a former Angel from 2005 through parts of 2010, is 14-6 with a 3.47 ERA in 22 career starts against Oakland.
The Mariners have taken four of seven matchups with Oakland so far this season and split a four-game set by the bay from April 1-4.