SEATTLE — Sean Manaea admits that last season, giving up a home run in a tight game could have been the start of a rough outing.
It wasn’t a problem on Sunday.
Manaea pitched seven strong innings and Jed Lowrie hit an early two-run homer off Felix Hernandez, leading the A’s to a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Even when he gave up a long ball to Taylor Motter in the fifth, Manaea responded by retiring his final seven batters.
“Last year, it was kind of like a dark spot, I guess. Anything that would go bad, immediately terrible thoughts would pop in my head and just keep getting me further and further down, and there were times I couldn’t get out of it,” Manaea said. “Where I am now, solo home runs aren’t going to kill you. That’s just kind of the mindset.”
The homer was one of just two hits allowed by Manaea (2-2). It was the third time in four starts this season he has lasted at least seven innings, and he’s allowed two runs or fewer in each outing.
“I don’t know where we’d be without him at this point,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He saves the bullpen. He’s pitched great and won games for us. He’s had a heck of an April, for sure.”
Blake Treinen finished with a four-out save as the A’s ended Seattle’s four-game winning streak and avoided a series sweep.
Lowrie provided all the offense the A’s needed with his homer in the first, which came after an odd play when a balk call was revered.
Marcus Semien singled and then appeared to get picked off first base before a balk was called on Hernandez. After the umpires huddled, the balk was called off and Semien returned to first. Lowrie followed with his fourth homer, giving Oakland a 2-0 lead.
“That wasn’t a balk. I stepped off the rubber,” Hernandez said. “It’s frustrating. It should have been an out.”
Lowrie took advantage, sending a drive to right field.
“I was just trying to figure out what was going on,” Lowrie said. “I don’t know. Let’s just play, that’s all I’m thinking.”
Hernandez (2-2) was effective on the mound, but he couldn’t match Manaea.
The longtime ace worked into the seventh inning for the first time this year, giving up five hits in 6⅓ innings. He retired 13 in a row after Lowrie’s homer, and struck out seven without issuing a walk.
In the eighth inning, Seattle leadoff hitter Dee Gordon bunted down the third base line with a runner on first. Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman charged in and narrowly threw out Gordon, a call that was upheld after a replay review.
“I don’t know how he makes that play,” Melvin said. “You’re talking about probably the fastest guy in the league, and when he puts it down and deadens it like that, it’s almost impossible to get him.”
The play also ended Gordon’s 18-game hitting streak that dated to last season.