Contentious call helps Mariners down the A's
July 13, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
SEATTLE--contentious game-ending strike call helped Seattle hang on for a 3-2 win over majors-leading Oakland on Friday, with both batter and manager having a heated argument with the plate umpire.
The Mariners' win was a key result on a day that also St. Louis creep within one game of the lead in the National League Central division by beating faltering leader Milwaukee. In the same hard-fought division, Cincinnati edged Pittsburgh to move two games above the Pirates.
Elsewhere, Detroit widened its lead in the American League Central by beating nearest rival Kansas City, and Baltimore kept up its recent knack of winning in extra innings, downing the New York Yankees.
There was a controversial climax at Seattle, where umpire James Hoye called strike three against Nick Punto, who had let the full-count pitch pass in the belief it was outside the strike zone. That ended the game, stranding an Oakland runner at third base.
Punto argued with Howe and threw his helmet to the ground, while A's manager Bob Melvin joined the confrontation.
That call made a winner of Mariners' starter Felix Hernandez (11-2), who gave up two early runs but then held the Oakland bats in check for the remainder of his eight innings.
Hernandez had made 11 straight starts of at least seven innings and giving up two earned runs or less. It's the longest such streak for an AL pitcher since Gaylord Perry for Cleveland in 1974.
Robinson Cano hit a go-ahead double for Seattle.
St. Louis' Matt Holliday hit a solo homer with two outs in the ninth inning off Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriguez, completing the Cardinals' rally from a six-run deficit to beat Milwaukee.
Holliday sent the first-pitch changeup from Rodriguez (3-3) into the left-field seats to break the tie. The Cardinals hit four homers and cut the sliding Brewers' lead in the NL Central to one game.