OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — James Paxton knows he will be pitching in plenty of meaningful games during the stretch run, and now that he is healthy and back on the mound it provides a big boost for Seattle’s playoff chances.
Paxton returned from the disabled list to strike out 10 batters over five innings, Ben Gamel hit a two-run double, and the Mariners held off the Oakland Athletics 8-7 on Saturday night in a matchup of contenders with a knack for comebacks.
“You always want to be part of this kind of thing,” Paxton said. “We’re in the race. We’ve played some good games here against these guys and hopefully we can come out and get the series win tomorrow.”
Jean Segura had a two-run single in the fifth, an inning after he was hit by a pitch. He finished with three hits, helping Seattle pull within 4 1/2 games of Oakland for the second AL wild card.
Khris Davis hit his majors-leading 40th home run to start the eighth for Oakland, giving him three straight 40-homer seasons . He joined Jimmie Foxx from 1932-34 as the only players in A’s history to accomplish that feat.
“It’s just miraculous numbers that he puts up,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve had a long history of power hitters here, and to be with Jimmie Foxx and that kind of company, and we’re still looking at close to a month left, he’s been as consistent a power hitter as anybody who’s been in Oakland.”
Marcus Semien added a two-run double in the eighth and left fielder Denard Span’s blunder trying to scoop up the ball allowed a third run to score to make it 8-7.
Edwin Diaz walked Jed Lowrie to begin the ninth and put the tying run aboard, and then recovered to strike out the side for his club-record 51st save in 55 opportunities.
With an ailing rotation, the A’s made a day-of change to start September call-up reliever Liam Hendriks (0-1) — a philosophy Tampa Bay employed this season — and then manager Bob Melvin eventually went to regularly scheduled starter Daniel Mengden after two other relievers.
After Gamel’s double in the second got the Mariners going, Seattle scored two of its three runs in the third on errors.
Mark Canha hit two-run homer in the fifth for the A’s, who struck out 18 times.
Paxton (11-5) pitched for the first time since getting hit on his left forearm by a line drive Aug. 14 at Oakland. He allowed three runs on two hits and walked four, and while he felt rusty he knows he will likely be sharper the next time out as he works on a more consistent release point.
“A game we needed to have tonight,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We got out offensively really good. I thought our at-bats were outstanding against a number of different pitchers.”
The lefty clapped his hand into his glove after retiring Davis on a strikeout to end the fifth following consecutive two-out walks to Matt Chapman and Lowrie.
Ryon Healy had a pair of hits against his old club as the Mariners won for just the second time in six games.
Seattle’s Mitch Haniger doubled leading off the fourth to match his career high with a 13-game hitting streak.
Mengden wound up working the third and fourth innings as the A’s used nine pitchers. That matched the most for any game in Oakland history and was the highest number used in a nine-inning game.
As Oakland made September call-ups, the A’s designated catcher Bruce Maxwell for assignment, possibly ending his tenure with the club.
In July, Maxwell was sentenced to two years of probation on a disorderly conduct charge, nearly three months after he pleaded guilty to the charge in a gun-related incident. Police said Maxwell had pointed a handgun at a woman who delivered food to his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, in October.
“I don’t think it was a distraction for us,” Melvin said of Maxwell’s legal issues.
The A’s made it a priority to promote catcher Beau Taylor, one of eight players added Saturday, and he caught the ninth to make his major league debut.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales, on the DL retroactive to Aug. 24 with a strained neck muscle, has been throwing in recent days and is getting closer to throwing a bullpen session, Servais said.
Athletics: OF Matt Joyce came off the 10-day DL as expected when rosters expanded. He had been out since July 5 with a strained lower back.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-12, 5.49 ERA), long the bane of Oakland batters, starts the series finale for Seattle opposite A’s righty Edwin Jackson (4-3, 3.03). Hernandez seeks his first victory in nine outings since beating the Royals on June 30, a span during which he’s 0-6.