Christian Bergman delivered exactly what the Mariners needed Wednesday night by bolstering an injury-depleted rotation and allowing a beleaguered bullpen an opportunity to catch its breath.
Bergman pitched 7 1/3 innings in a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field for his first big-league victory as a starter since Sept. 21, 2014.
"My command was a lot better than it was last time (in Toronto)," he said. "I had command of three pitches. I was able to locate well, and Tuffy (Gosewisch) called a great game.
"We played good defense and scored some runs. It was good all around."
The Mariners didn’t do a lot offensively. But enough. They got a gift run in the first inning when Oakland right fielder Matt Joyce misplayed a ball. Jean Segura then highlighted a three-run fifth inning with a two-run single.
"We got the pitch count up on (Oakland starter Jesse) Hahn," manager Scott Servais said. "We grinded it out. We got him to (103) pitches in five innings."
Bergman (1-1) exited with a two-hit shutout after issuing a one-out walk in the eighth inning. He struck out nine while throwing a 106 pitches in a 7 1/3 innings.
All career highs.
"It was on the corners," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said "It was down at times. Had a little cutter. I think we hit three balls on the ground the whole game, maybe three or four, and a couple balls hard."
James Pazos, pitching for the first time since Sunday, replaced Bergman and completed the shutout, which enabled the Mariners to win the three-game series.
"The rest definitely helped," Pazos said. "We’ve all been throwing a lot. It was a nice little break. I’m probably fresher than most."
The Mariners signed Bergman, 29, as a minor-league free agent on Dec. 1, 2016. He was 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA in six games at Triple-A Tacoma when promoted to the Mariners on May 7.
"Same guy that I saw in Tacoma," right fielder Ben Gamel said. "Spot up. He pitches to contact. He’s not out there trying to get strikeouts. He’s going to grind through pitches and make a pitch when he needs to."
Bergman made 15 starts over the previous three years in Colorado but topped out at 6 1/3 innings and seven strikeouts. He entered the season with a 5.79 ERA over 55 big-league games.
"I can’t really give you a definitive answer there," he said. "I made some small mechanical adjustments that help me to stay on top of the ball. But nothing really drastic."
The Mariners grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Joyce played what should have been a one-out single by Gamel into a triple. Nelson Cruz followed with a sacrifice fly.
Segura’s two-run single later in the fifth helped the Mariners extend their lead to 4-0. It also extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
Boog Powell led off with a walk and went to second on Guillermo Heredia’s single through the left side.
The runners moved to second and third on Tuffy Gosewisch’s sacrifice, which prompted the Athletics to shorten their infield. Segura followed with a single up the middle.
Segura went to third when center fielder Mark Canha dropped Gamel’s fly for a two-base error. Cruz’s grounder to third scored Segura for league-leading 36th RBI.
PLAY OF THE GAME: While center fielder Jarrod Dyson has the top defensive WAR (wins above replacement) rating in the American League, the Mariners don’t lose much with Heredia.
Jed Lowrie’s deep one-out drive to center in the fourth inning turned into an out when Heredia ran down the ball at the wall. It was one of the few hard-hit balls against Bergman.
PLUS: Mariners starters have worked at least six innings in three straight starts for the first time since May 4-6…the Mariners got their fourth shutout victory of the season. They’ve been shut out three times…the Mariners are 5-2 in rubber games and 12-6 at home. They have won five straight home series.
MINUS: Taylor Motter was 0-for-4. He is 5-for-23 with nine strikeouts in six games as a replacement at second base for injured Robinson Cano…While Gosewisch executed a sacrifice bunt in the three-run fifth inning, he struck out in his other two plate appearances. He is now 1-for-21 (.048) with 12 strikeouts.
STAT PACK: Segura’s 16-game hitting streak is four shy of the club record for a shortstop. Alex Rodriguez had a 20-game streak in 1996, which Yuniesky Betancourt matched in 2007.
QUOTABLE: Gamel turned 25 on Wednesday and marked the occasion by going 2-for-4. He said he can’t remember ever getting a hit on his birthday.
"I think it was my first one in professional baseball," he said. "It’s been a couple of rough birthdays."
SHORT HOPS: Bergman’s outing was the longest by a Mariners starter since James Paxton threw eight shutout innings on April 15 in a 5-0 victory over Texas…Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso left the game in the seventh inning because of soreness in his left knee…the last time the Athletics had fewer than three hits was Sept. 30, 2016 — at Safeco Field.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners