Melhuse's grand slam helps A's double up on M's

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The more Adam Melhuse plays, the more
comfortable he feels at the plate.

Melhuse hit a grand slam and Nick Swisher also homered as the
Oakland Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 12-6 Tuesday night.

"It's a situation where you wonder if you had the at bats what
you would do," Melhuse said after hitting a home run for the third
time in five games. "When you know you're getting regular at bats
you relax easier and don't put a lot of pressure on one game."

Melhuse got regular work during the weekend when Jason Kendall
served his four-game suspension for his altercation with Angels'
pitcher John Lackey. It carried over against the Mariners.

"When I wasn't playing much last year every at bat felt like
the first day of spring training," Melhuse said. "Playing every
fifth game is OK. I know my role here. You just have to find a way
to succeed at it."

Kendall had two hits and three RBI, helping the A's win their
second straight while beating the Mariners for the fourth
consecutive time this season. Jay Payton matched a career high with
four hits and scored three runs.

Joe Blanton (4-4) ended a personal two-game skid and won his
first game in May in his eighth start in the month over the last
two seasons. He gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings,
striking out four and walking none.

"I kept the ball down better tonight and that helped get me a
lot of ground balls," Blanton said. "Sometimes things just go
right and there's no reason. You could give up three bloop hits and
then have three line drives right at somebody. That's the way the
thing goes."

Jose Lopez had three hits, including his fourth triple, and
drove in two runs for the Mariners, who lost for the third time in
five games. Raul Ibanez had two hits, including a two-run homer.

Felix Hernandez (2-5) gave up career-highs of 10 runs -- five
earned -- and 11 hits in four innings. It was his shortest outing of
the season and his second-shortest in 20 career starts. He lasted
three innings against the Texas Rangers last Sept. 16. Hernandez,
who also walked two and struck out four, was coming off his best
start of the year, in which he allowed a run and five hits in 7 2-3
innings in beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last Tuesday.

"My pitches have all been good, but basically I couldn't
control them," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "Every
pitch I threw went up."

Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 10 games, and drove
in a run for the Mariners. He also recorded his 17th multihit game,
two behind AL-leader Michael Young.

A's manager Ken Macha compared Swisher, who has reached base
safely in 33 straight, to Suzuki before the game, praising both for
the way they prepare for a game. Both players are routinely on the
field hours before their teammates.

"He's been carrying us," Macha said of Swisher. "He's been
tremendous, more than probably we expected."

Eric Chavez gave the A's a 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI
single before the A's broke it open with five unearned runs in the
third. A fielding error by Adrian Beltre paved the way for the

Mark Ellis and Mark Kotsay each singled to start the rally. With
two outs, Beltre let Bobby Crosby's hard grounder bounce untouched
through his legs, allowing Ellis to score. Payton singled to load
the bases and Melhuse drilled Hernandez's 2-1 pitch over the
right-center field fence for his second career grand slam.

"I really wasn't sitting on anything because you have to
respect all his pitches," Melhuse said. "I had to stay back and
react to the pitch, try to recognize it as soon as possible. I
really had to make an adjustment from my first at bat when I was
pulling my head out and not getting a good swing."

Seattle got a run back in the fourth when Lopez scored while
Richie Sexson hit into a double play, but Swisher padded the lead
with his 13th homer of the year, a two-run shot in the bottom of
the inning to put the A's up 8-1.

Kendall hit a two-run single in the fifth and singled home
another run in the sixth.

Payton added an RBI triple in the sixth.

Game notes
Hernandez entered the game with a career 1.89 ERA in three
previous starts against the A's. ... Mariners RHP Julio Mateo will
throw a simulated game on Wednesday and could be activated from the
DL as soon as Thursday. ... A's RHP Rich Harden threw from 120 feet
on Monday and is tentatively scheduled for a bullpen session in
Chicago on Monday. ... A's LHP Randy Keisler was placed on the
bereavement list effective Monday. He left the team in New York to
be with his ailing grandmother. He's expected to rejoin the team on
Thursday in Oakland. ... A's RHP Esteban Loaiza threw a side
session and if everything goes well he will pitch a simulated game
on Friday. ... Melhuse hit his other grand slam on June 13, 2004
against the Pittsburgh Pirates.