By MICHAEL WAGAMAN (Associated Press)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mariners rookie Bryan Woo had six strikeouts over five spotless innings in a successful homecoming, and Seattle pulled even for the third AL wild card by beating the last-place Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Monday night.
José Caballero homered for the first time in two months, and J.P. Crawford walked three times and delivered an RBI single to help the Mariners win the opener of their final road trip.
Seattle moved into a tie with skidding Texas for the final American League playoff berth. Both teams are 1 1/2 games behind first-place Houston in the AL West.
Woo (4-4) was born in Oakland and attended high school in nearby Alameda. A sixth-round draft pick in 2021 who made his major league debut June 3, the 23-year-old righty allowed three hits and overcame four walks to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season while pitching in front of a section of family and friends.
Woo said making his first big league appearance back home might have caused him some early jitters. He got worked up enough in the first inning that pitching coach Pete Woodworth visited the mound to calm him down.
“Maybe a little bit to start out, but I was able to kind of do a better job of getting back to focusing on what I needed to focus on,” Woo said. “Usually that doesn’t happen. Definitely wanted to enjoy the support that was there.”
His outing helped the Mariners secure a franchise-record 16th shutout this season.
Woo has won three of his last four starts after getting one victory in his first 12. He’s been particularly tough in his past two games, striking out 14 over 10 2/3 scoreless innings to lower his ERA from 4.58 to 3.90.
“Once he settled in he got the good rhythm going,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s always at his best when he’s out there attacking, just letting it go and not trying to hit the corners so much. Had a little reminder from our pitching coach in the first inning and then it seemed to click after that.”
Tayler Saucedo, Justin Topa, Trent Thornton and Isaiah Campbell each retired three batters to complete the five-hitter. Oakland was shut out for the 15th time this season.
The A’s lost their fifth straight and are 46-104. The 104 losses are the second-most in Oakland history. The 1979 team lost 108 games.
Seattle left the bases loaded in the first but then broke through against starter JP Sears (5-12) in the second. Sam Haggerty reached on a leadoff single, moved to second on a groundout and scored when Crawford blooped a 1-2 pitch into right field.
Dylan Moore singled leading off the fourth and scored two batters later when Caballero smashed a first-pitch fastball from Sears a projected 437 feet into the left-field stands.
“Cabby’s got sneaky power and he let it eat tonight,” Servais said.
Caballero singled and scored on Luis Torrens’ two-out double in the sixth. Eugenio Suárez added an RBI single in the ninth.
“I was talking to (Servais) before the game and he told me to take my A swing instead of chasing a hit. Just go have fun,” Caballero said. “We’re trying to make it to the playoffs and these games at the end, they all matter. That’s what gets me going. We need the wins, so they need 100% out of me.”
Sears walked four and allowed six hits and four runs with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
“JP was kind of fighting himself from the get-go,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He battled like he always does. Overall, not what he’s been of late, but yet manageable and still kept us in the ballgame.”
Suárez saved a potential hit in the second when he made a diving stop of Jordan Diaz’s sharp bouncer at third. Suárez got to his feet and made a one-hop throw that first baseman Ty France gloved with a backhanded scoop for the out.
ON THE MOVE
A’s outfielder Esteury Ruiz stole second base in the eighth inning and swiped third two pitches later when no one covered the bag. That gave Ruiz 61 steals this season, tops among rookies and the most in the AL overall. Ruiz needs six more to break Kenny Lofton’s AL rookie record of 66 set in 1992.
Mariners: Cal Raleigh was rested, the first day off for Seattle’s catcher since July 26.
Mariners RHP Luis Castillo (13-7, 3.08 ERA) starts Tuesday against Athletics RHP Paul Blackburn (4-5, 4.14). Castillo had eight strikeouts in six scoreless innings against Oakland and got the win on May 22. Blackburn is 5-11 in 26 career games versus AL West teams.
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