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May 6, 2014 at 11:52 PM

Mariners 8, A’s 3 — second place in the AL West? Yes.

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Yes, it’s early in the season and it probably won’t last. But that’s got to be cool to see if you are a Mariners’ fan. With the win tonight, the Mariners have won four straight games and nine of their last 11 games.

The last time they were above .500 was on April 15.

And they did it without late-inning drama — sort of.

It looked like we were heading for another Maalox sponsored ninth inning. Seattle was up 4-3 going into the top of the ninth inning. The Fernando Rodney Experience was in the bullpen getting ready, askewing his hat and tossing warm-up pitches.

Rodney being Rodney and the Mariners being the Mariners, getting an insurance run would have been somewhat comforting for fans and greatly help my running game story (it’s always about me).

The Mariners got that run without the ball leaving the infield tormenting on-again, off-again A’s closer Jim Johnson. Brad Miller walked to start the inning. Michael Saunders put down a solid sac bunt that Johnson threw it away going to first, allowing both runners to move up. Johnson came to strike out James Jones and then intentionally walked Robinson Cano. With bases loaded Corey Hart hit a soft ground ball to shortstop. It was just slow enough that a hustling Cano (take that Mariano!) got a solid take out slide on Nick Punto at second and Hart got his oft-surgically repaired knees to muster up some strength and get down the line to beat out the throw, allowing Miller to score.

“That’s about as quick as I’m getting down the line,” Hart said. “I can’t do it all time. But once in a while I can throw it out there.”

The one run was nice. But the Mariners kept adding. Justin Smoak looped a broken bat single into the outfield to score two runs. Smoak had a pretty opposite field RBI double earlier and then hit a rocket to first that Brandon Moss fielded in the form of Roger Dorn. But this gork to center found grass.

“Believe it or not, Johnson has really good stuff so I just tried to stay on the ball and sneak one out there,” Smoak said. “The bat broke in my hand. It was kind of weird. At first it was hold your breath, and then as I got half way down the line I saw it was in there.”

The Mariners had scored three runs with the hardest hit ball traveling about 150 feet. Kyle Seager changed that by belting a double to left field to score Smoak from first – something he bragged about.

Roenis Elias was good, but not great. Pretty hard to be much better than his last outing in New York. His command was off early and it showed.

Facing the American League West leading and ultra patient A’s, Elias fought through a sluggish start, pitching 6 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out three.

“He seemed to find his groove in the middle innings,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He found his curveball and found his change-up and settled down quite nicely. He did a nice job. I’m very pleased with how he came out of it.”

His catcher Mike Zunino was impressed.

“Today said a lot about him,” Zunino said. “His stuff was good, but the command wasn’t quite there. He battled. He gave us a good start. He was able to eat up innings and then settle in. It speaks about him and being able to adjust on the fly.”

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