SEATTLE – The Mariners seem to keep finding ways to lose lately.
Sometimes, it's the bullpen self-destructing. Other times, it's the offense struggling to provide any run support for Seattle's starting pitchers or the defense making costly errors.
The Mariners' 5-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday was just the latest example.
"We've got to break through this," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "We had opportunities on and off throughout the course of the ballgame. These guys are going to have to figure out a way to fight through whatever they are going through mentally, fundamentally for that matter, and finish off innings. That's the difference in the ballgame."
Brett Anderson (2-1) allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out six for the victory. Brian Fuentes came on in the eighth inning and struck out three of his four batters in picking up the four-out save. It was his sixth save in seven chances.
Mariners starter Doug Fister gave the team a chance to win. He allowed just one run on four hits over six innings and left with the game knotted at 1. It was Fister's third quality start in his last four outings and he has allowed three runs or less in all but one of his starts this year. Yet Fister has just one win to show for his efforts.
"He didn't have his best stuff, but he battled," Wedge said. "He didn't give in to it. I thought that was a gutsy performance on his part.
"I've been thrilled with the way he's thrown the ball this year."
Coco Crisp had three hits, scored three runs and stole a base, and Anderson pitched seven strong innings as the A's earned a series split.
With the game tied at 1 in the seventh, Crisp reached on a fielder's choice against reliever Aaron Laffey (0-1) and moved to third on a single by pinch-hitter Conor Jackson. Josh Willingham followed with a double down the left-field line that Milton Bradley misplayed in the corner and allowed Jackson to score from first to give Oakland a 3-1 lead.
Seattle got a run back in the bottom half as Michael Saunders led off with an infield single. Jack Wilson reached on a throwing error by Kevin Kouzmanoff and the runners advanced as the ball caromed into the stands. Ryan Langerhans picked up an RBI on a groundout to first that allowed Saunders to score, but Wilson was left stranded at third as Ichiro Suzuki flew out to center and Chone Figgins struck out looking.
"You just keep on playing," Wilson said. "Every team is going to go through a rut like that. We just won two in a row then had two tough games and Anderson was pretty darn good out there and we just couldn't get a jump on him."
The Mariners threatened again in the eighth inning, but pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez struck out to strand the tying run at third.
An error by Figgins on a possible double play ball kept the ninth inning alive and Willingham doubled to score two more runs for insurance off Jamey Wright to seal the win.
After the game, Seattle optioned right-hander Josh Lueke to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled righty Dan Cortes in hoping of helping stabilize a battered bullpen.
Anderson allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out six over seven innings of work to earn the victory. Brian Fuentes came on in the eighth inning and struck out three of his four batters in picking up the four-out save. It was his sixth save in seven chances.
Hideki Matsui came up with a two out single to right field that scored Crisp from second to give Oakland the 1-0 lead.
Suzuki led off with a bunt single of his own in the bottom half of the first and, despite being picked off by Anderson, was able to get into second base safely when Daric Barton's throw hit him in the backside.
A grounder to second by Bradley brought Suzuki home and tied it at 1.
Fister worked out of a jam in the fifth after giving up a leadoff triple to Crisp. Adam Kennedy snared a one-hopper from Barton at first and kept Crisp from advancing home. Fister then forced David DeJesus to pop up to third base and Willingham flew out to end the threat.
Crisp then flashed his glove. In the sixth inning, Miguel Olivo led off with a drive to center that Crisp tracked down and caught running full speed before slamming into the wall with his left shoulder. Crisp seemed to favor it briefly before shaking it off and staying in.
Notes: After the game, Seattle optioned OF Carlos Peguero and RHP Josh Lueke to Triple-A Tacoma. The team activated 1B Justin Smoak off the bereavement list and recalled RHP Dan Cortes. Both Smoak and Cortes will be with the team Tuesday in Detroit. ... Crisp recorded his third triple of the season, tied for most in the majors with Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez. All three of Crisp's 3-hit games this year have come against Seattle pitching. ... Suzuki was the team's designated hitter for the first time this season getting the day off in the field.