OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland Athletics threw away opening day for the second straight season.
On a night when Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez was at his best, the A's might have been at their worst. They committed five errors and managed only five hits in a complete game by Hernandez, falling to the AL West rival Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Friday.
"Just a poor night all the way around," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Too many walks, too many errors. You're not going to see that from this club very often. That's not the recipe that we need to win."
The errors were uncharacteristic for an A's team that led the AL in ERA (3.56) and shutouts (17) last season and usually wins behind solid defense and strong pitching. Oakland had 99 errors last season, fifth-best in the AL.
Hernandez (1-0) gave the A's little room for error, too.
He pitched his 14th career complete game and the majors' first this year, dazzling hitters after allowing Josh Willingham's two-run, two-out homer in the first. King Felix faced the minimum in each of the next six innings, allowing only a leadoff single to David DeJesus in the fourth before Landon Powell's base hit to begin the eighth.
Things only got worse for the A's when catcher Kurt Suzuki went down writhing in pain after being clobbered by a scoring Miguel Olivo in the seventh. But Suzuki stayed in the game to finish the inning before taking a seat with a mild left ankle sprain.
Suzuki said his ankle was sore but he was optimistic he would play Saturday. As for the collision, he'd rather forget the painful memory.
"He used me as a Slip N' Slide," Suzuki said. "He kind of just rolled over my ankle."
Chone Figgins hit a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth inning off Craig Breslow (0-1). Ichiro Suzuki singled twice, drove in a run and stole a pair of bases as the Mariners won their opener under new manager Eric Wedge to end a five-game losing streak in Oakland.
Seattle spoiled the A's opener played before a sellout crowd of 36,067 that included 1,000 standing-room only tickets. Ichiro Suzuki moved within one hit of tying Edgar Martinez's franchise record of 2,247.
Oakland simply had no answer for Seattle's ace.
Hernandez, who won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award despite only 13 victories, struck out five and didn't walk a batter in a 108-pitch gem. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four opening-day outings.
"You had a Cy Young winner on the mound tonight, and it sure looked like it," A's second baseman Mark Ellis said.
The only A's highlight of the night was a quick one.
Willingham wasted little time showing why Oakland acquired him from Washington this winter to be its new cleanup hitter and upgrade an offense that managed only 109 homers and 663 runs last season, the team's second-fewest in the last 28 non-shortened seasons.
Willingham sent the second pitch he saw from Hernandez over the out-of-town scoreboard in left — the first opening-day homer allowed by Hernandez. Willingham became the 10th player in Oakland history to hit a home run in his first at-bat with the A's. Frank Thomas last did it on April 3, 2006.
Jack Cust scored an insurance run to start the Mariners' three-run seventh, when Oakland committed two of its five errors. Oakland last committed five errors in a game on July 6, 2007, at home against Seattle. The A's also had four errors during their season-opening 5-3 loss to the Mariners here on April 5 a year ago.
Trevor Cahill hung tough in his first career opening-day start but labored and saw his pitch count climb in a hurry. The right-hander, an 18-game winner in his second full major league season last year, allowed one run on four hits in 4 2-3 innings, struck out eight and walked four.
Cahill escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth after consecutive errors by third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had his first career two-error game. Cahill left with runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth — at 105 pitches.
New designated hitter Hideki Matsui went 0 for 3 and grounded into a double play in his Athletics debut.
Ellis, who matched his career best with a 13-game hitting streak to end last season, had an eighth-inning single.
NOTES: Oakland went 7-2 against Seattle at home last season. ... The uniforms worn by Matsui and Suzuki will be auctioned off Sunday to aid earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in their native Japan.