It was there.
The offensive attack that Athletics manager Bob Geren must have envisioned during spring training showed up in full force Friday night at Safeco Field.
But a memorable night at the plate for the A’s eventually dissolved into an 8-7 defeat to the Seattle Mariners. Jose Lopez hit the 14th pitch he saw from A’s reliever Russ Springer and then lined a single to score Endy Chavez in the bottom of the ninth for the game-winner.
The A’s seemingly had the game in their hands with a 6-1 lead by the third inning, only to watch starting pitcher Dana Eveland surrender all of it and let first-place Seattle take the opener of this three-game series.
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It was a terrific night for the A’s offense, which batted around in a six-run third against Carlos Silva, and got a homer for the second straight game from Matt Holliday.
But Eveland labored from the get-go, and outings like Friday’s are what earned him a ticket to the minors last August.
He’s completed five innings in just two of his five starts.
The A’s did all their damage in the third with two outs. Holliday grounded a single up the middle to score Ryan Sweeney, who had doubled. Jack Cust worked a walk to load the bases, and Kurt Suzuki delivered a two-run double to the left field wall.
After a walk to Travis Buck, Bobby Crosby delivered a three-run triple to make it 6-1. It was the second time Crosby has cleared the bases with a triple this season. The first came in Toronto, as he split the left-center gap. This one went to the right-center wall.
On Thursday, Eveland talked about Mariners newcomers such as Ken Griffey, Jr., Russell Branyan and Franklin Gutierrez, who he said gave Seattle’s lineup a completely different look from last season.
Given a 6-1 lead, Eveland gave back two of the runs in the bottom of the third. Then Branyan launched a two-run homer over the center field wall in the fifth inning to make it 6-5.
With two outs, Eveland allowed a single to Kenji Johjima. He got ahead of Gutierrez 1-2 but then allowed another two-run homer that hooked just inside the left field foul pole to put Seattle ahead 7-6.
Eveland left with two outs in the fifth. But long man DanGiese entered and delivered 3 scoreless innings to hold Seattle in check.
Holliday, going back to a more simplified batting approach he used last season, crushed a seventh-inning homer to the second deck in left field to tie the game 7-7.
With closer Brad Ziegler out sick, veteran Russ Springer took the ball in the ninth for Oakland. With runners on the corners and two outs, Geren chose to walk Branyan to load the bases for Lopez.
Lopez engaged Springer in a 14-pitch battle, with Lopez lining a clean single to right-center to win it.
Sweeney, a “SportsCenter” darling Thursday night after his over-the-fence grab in Texas, turned in another gem Friday that was every bit as impressive. In the second inning, Kenji Johjima drove a ball deep to center.
Sweeney raced back and caught the ball directly over his head with his back to the plate, Willie Mays-style. Making the play more difficult was that the ball tailed a bit, so Sweeney actually hauled it in over his right shoulder before sliding to the ground, like a receiver in the corner of the end zone.