OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Joe Blanton refused to worry about his fate even after allowing the tying run to reach second with none out in the ninth -- rookie of the year closer Huston Street now had the ball.
The pair of second-year pitchers calmly sustained Oakland's winning streak.Blanton pitched into the ninth and Jay Payton homered to help the surging Athletics win their fifth straight game with a 2-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night."I was trying not to think," Blanton said of the situation when he gave way to Street. "I know he's going to get the job done. He's really good in situations like that."Jason Kendall added an RBI single as the A's matched their best winning streak of the season. They have won eight of nine and 10 of 12, including a three-game weekend sweep of New York at Yankee Stadium.Blanton (6-6) bounced back with a great outing following an 11-2 loss last Wednesday at Cleveland in which he gave up two homers and six earned runs in five innings. The right-hander, who has been inconsistent at times in his second major-league season, didn't
allow a baserunner past first until giving up a single and a double to start the ninth and giving way to Street.Blanton retired 14 straight starting with Kenji Johjima's
fielder's choice to end the second, taking advantage of his fastball being the strongest it has all year."His command was terrific again," manager Ken Macha said. "A lot of times he goes out and uses his changeup a lot and doesn't have as good a fastball."Blanton received a standing ovation when he left after allowing five hits, striking out two and not walking a batter in his fourth career complete game and second this season. After plunking Jose Lopez to load the bases in the ninth, Street struck out Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson, then got Carl Everett to fly out to left to end it. It was Street's 15th save in 18 chances and fifth in five games."Joe pitched so well, he deserved the win," Street said. "That's probably the most satisfying thing. He keeps us on a role. I was just thankful certain pitches were the right pitches."Ichiro Suzuki singled in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Like Oakland, Seattle had won nine of 11, but the Mariners were eager to get on track against their division opponent. The Mariners are 1-7 against the A's, losing the last seven.The A's winning streak in the series is their longest since taking 11 in a row against Seattle from June 22 to Sept. 18, 1992."We didn't get many baserunners and we didn't get the big hit," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "Once we did get going, Street came in and he's pretty good. They just beat us. I can live with that, though not very well."Jamie Moyer (3-6) made his 499th career start as the Mariners began a stretch in which they play 12 of 15 games on the road. The lefty ran into trouble in the seventh and was done for the night
when he loaded the bases on a walk to Marco Scutaro with no outs following consecutive singles to Nick Swisher and Payton, giving way to George Sherrill.Moyer allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, struck out two and walked four. The 43-year-old Moyer has lasted more than six innings only once in his last six starts.He has been hurt by a lack of run support."I threw the ball OK, but we lost," he said. "I just tried to force them to put the ball in play. I can only go out and concern myself with how I'm doing."Payton hit a solo homer to left in the fifth, his third of the season. He is batting .393 (11-for-28) against the Mariners this year.Blanton, meanwhile, improved to 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA in seven career starts against Seattle."Coincidence, I think," he said. "I don't think anything more. ... I've thrown against them so many times. Maybe it's just a comfort level."Oakland designated hitter Frank Thomas was back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday in New York with a sore right quadriceps muscle that also bothered him last month and forced him to miss four games."I'm feeling 38," he said. "I've got a strain, but I know how to work around it."
Suzuki is batting .517 (31-for-60) during his hitting streak. ... Moyer fell to 1-4 away from Safeco Field this season. ... Blanton is 4-0 in five starts against the AL West, three of those against Seattle. ... Both teams came into this series 8-2 in June, tops in the majors for the month so far. Oakland went 19-8 in June 2005 following a 7-20 showing in May that featured two eight-game skids. ... Street is the first A's pitcher to save five straight games since Billy Koch did it from June 16-21, 2002.