OAKLAND -- The Mariners were a lot closer to being no-hit on Sunday afternoon than they were to losing the final game of their series against the Athletics. Neither of those things happened, as Seattle pulled out another win in the young season. Third baseman Adrian Beltre broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single in the seventh inning and, one out later, Mike Sweeney delivered a run-scoring double, giving left-hander Erik Bedard and right-handed reliever David Aardsma the only run they would need, as the Mariners notched a series-sweeping 1-0 victory over the Athletics before 12,127 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
It was the 34th time in franchise history that the Mariners won a 1-0 game, and the team returned to Seattle after this one for its home opener ceremonies sporting a 5-2 record. Who would have thought? "It's a long season and we're not going to get too high or too low this early," Sweeney said. "But we're playing good baseball and have come together as a team." The series finale was all about the pitching. Bedard retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced before putting two runners on base with two outs in the fourth. But he struck out Eric Chavez to end the threat, starting a stretch of 13 more consecutive batters retired. Meanwhile, Athletics right-hander Trevor Cahill, making his second Major League start, walked three and hit a batter in the first three innings, but then retired 11 straight himself. He went into the seventh inning with a no-hitter. "There is more intensity because everyone is trying to get on base and score the first run," Bedard said of the scoreless game sailing into the final innings. The crowd was getting into it when Cahill retired Ken Griffey Jr. on a foul popup to start the seventh inning. Beltre stepped in, and ended that part of the days' drama with a sharp line-drive single into center field. "Adrian did a great job of getting the first hit on the board and setting the table," Sweeney said. "That's all we needed -- a big hit, and we got it." Seattle actually needed two big hits, and got that, too, when Sweeney lined his double into the gap. Athletics center fielder Rajai Davis momentarily slipped, ending any chance of keeping the ball from rolling to the fence. Beltre scored easily and the shutout was no longer. Cahill departed after the inning, getting a warm reception from the fans -- and the Mariners. "I was with Oakland last year and I heard a lot about Trevor Cahill," Sweeney said. "Everyone said he was a 'poor man's Brandon Webb,' and he came out today and pitched like it. He pitched really well. When he needed an out, he went to his sinker, and he had tremendous movement on it. That's what made him so unhittable." But he picked a bad day to pitch, because Bedard, in the end, was better. "I can't say enough about Erik Bedard," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He came out and pitched like a champion. It's the best I have seen in a while." From a Mariners fan's standpoint, it's the best they've ever seen the lefty pitch. His 8 1/3-inning stint was the longest of his 17 career starts with Seattle. "He had some good late life on his fastball; he was hard to square up today," Athletics designated hitter Jack Cust said. "He did a nice job of keeping us off balance. He never really falls into any kind of a pattern." Mariners catcher Rob Johnson said Bedard was locked in from the first inning." "That's only the second time I have ever caught him," he said, "but he looked very relaxed out there, very comfortable. He was able to throw his sinker to both sides of the plate, which kept the hitters off-balance, and we didn't use that many curves until later in the game." Bedard (1-0) struck out seven and walked one. He departed in the ninth after Ryan Sweeney singled and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Wakamatsu went against the percentages with Jason Giambi coming to bat. "[Bedard] did a good job against Giambi, but he was tired and I wanted a power arm against Giambi right there," Wakamatsu explained. With closer Brandon Morrow getting the day off after throwing 27 pitches on Saturday afternoon, the call went to Aardsma, who came in and snuck a called third strike past the Athletics first baseman. Aardsma walked Matt Holliday on four pitches to put the winning run on base, but finally retired Cust on a line drive to left field on a full-count pitch. "I was happy that he just hit a ball fair," said Aardsma, who picked up his second save in the series. "I threw all fastballs. I hated to keep throwing them in there because he's such a good hitter, but he wasn't catching up to it, so why change?" The Mariners now have two closers doing the job. When the season started, they weren't sure who, if anyone, would be able to protect last-inning leads. It has been that kind of a season so far. "It will be good to get home, I will tell you that," Wakamatsu said.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.