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Fourth-inning collapses hurting Mariners

Associated Press Published: September 9, 2012

SEATTLE (AP) — For the second straight game, one of the Seattle Mariners' most consistent starters was victimized in the fourth inning — by the same Oakland hitter.

George Kottaras homered for the second straight game Saturday night and the Athletics went on to a 6-1 victory over the Mariners. Kottaras hit a two-run shot off Hisashi Iwakuma (6-4) in Oakland's four-run fourth.

It came one night after Kottaras hit a three-run shot of staff ace Felix Hernandez in a three-run fourth, also a 6-1 victory.

"Tonight's game was very similar to (Friday's) game," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Disappointing to say the least. Oakland's a good ball club. They've been the best baseball club in the second half and we're going to have to come out and play better to beat them, as simple as that."

Iwakuma came into the game 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA in his previous seven starts, including 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in five August starts. Before Friday, Hernandez was 9-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his previous 15 starts since June 17, with five shutouts including a perfect game.

The A's kept pace in the AL West with the Texas Rangers, who beat Tampa Bay 4-2. Oakland trails the Rangers by 4½ games and are in a virtual tie with the Yankees and Orioles atop the wild-card race.

Brett Anderson (4-0), who won his fourth straight start since recovering from Tommy John surgery, tamed the Mariners Saturday. He allowed one unearned run and six hits while striking out four in six innings. He lowered his ERA to 0.69. He has 19 strikeouts in his four starts.

"I think it's been more than we could ever expect," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Anderson's recovery. "To sit here and say he's 4-0 at this point coming off that is pretty terrific."

Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said Anderson, "has a live arm, pretty good slider, pretty good breaking ball, pretty sharp. When he establishes the fastball, it makes his slider even better, and it's already a 'plus' one."

Seattle finished 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

"I always hold myself to a high standard. You have to in this game, otherwise the game's going to beat you up," Anderson said. "Today was my most grinding start so far. It seemed like it was first and second one out every inning.

Anderson and Kottaras, acquired July 29 in a trade with Milwaukee, have had significant roles in helping the A's win 17 of their last 22 games. Their 78 wins are also four more than all of last season.

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