OAKLAND, Calif. — Sonny Gray already had a tough start when Endy Chavez bounced a chopper through a vacant middle infield and turned a single into a two-run double.
The Oakland Athletics nearly rallied in the ninth inning before losing for the fifth time in six games, falling 6-5 to James Paxton and the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
In the fourth, second baseman Alberto Callaspo moved to shallow center trying to make a play on Chavez’s ball, but shortstop Jed Lowrie was late moving toward the bag, and Chavez had already begun sliding into second. No throw was made.
“Chavez hits probably the shortest double you’ve ever seen in your life,” Gray said. “I know it is for me, shortest one I’ve ever seen.”
The A’s remained 4 1/2 games back of the first-place Angels, who lost at Houston. Seattle is third in the AL wild-card standings.
Oakland didn’t seem too concerned afterward.
“No matter what inning you score in, it was a one-run game. We’re one swing of the bat away from winning it,” Norris said. “They didn’t score for seven innings, either. That’s why you play all nine innings.”
The rubber game Wednesday afternoon between the division rivals and playoff contenders has the makings of quite a pitcher’s duel. In a matchup of 13-game winners, Seattle ace Felix Hernandez faces Jon Lester.
Paxton pounded the strike zone to induce groundballs as he carried a shutout into the eighth, and his defense dazzled behind him.
“This young man’s got greatness written all over him, he’s just got to stay healthy,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I thought it was a dominant performance.”