SEATTLE -- It's games like Sunday's deflating 14-10 loss to the Mariners when it's clear that this A's season bears no resemblance to 2006. A year ago, the A's could come back from virtually any deficit and deny their opponents down the stretch as they won the American League West Division title. This year, the spirit is willing but the results are fractured. The A's (49-56) are desperately trying to jump into contention, but are now much closer to last-place Texas (46-59) than front-running Los Angeles (60-42). They are at a season-low seven games under .500; they haven't been that far under since June 24, 2005.
An eighth-inning throwing error by Huston Street opened the door for the Mariners to generate their four-run rally for victory, breaking the A's spirits after their rousing comeback. "It's a tough loss," said Nick Swisher, whose three-run, sixth-inning double gave the A's a 9-7 lead. "At this point in time, a loss is a loss. It doesn't matter how you do it. It's all about wins and losses." After winning the first game in this four-game series, the A's dropped the last three. They now head home to face the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers. "All losses are deflating," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We were down early. To get back and get into position to win ... we talked about this team before, how they never give up and play to the last out. I really appreciate their efforts." Down 6-0 by the second inning, the A's mounted a resolute comeback. They scored three in the third, two in the fifth and four in the big sixth-inning rally. Swisher, who was 6-for-15 in the series with eight RBIs, hit the first pitch from Chris Reitsma into the left-field gap as all three runners scored easily. However, the Mariners rallied to tie it at 10 with a three-run seventh, keyed by Ben Broussard's two-run home run off Santiago Casilla. The only reason Broussard was in the game was because starting first baseman Richie Sexson was ejected for arguing a close play in the sixth. Street took over in the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to Kenji Johjima. Jason Ellison ran for Johjima and Jose Lopez placed a sacrifice bunt to the left of the mound. Street handled it cleanly but threw off line to first baseman Dan Johnson. That allowed Ellison to score and Lopez took second. "I just made a bad throw," Street said. "I probably shouldn't have looked at third. I got to the ball quick. Sometimes you try to do too much and get excited. Still, I had plenty of time. I just made a bad throw. I should have centered D.J. up a little more." Street has had only three outings since spending two months on the disabled list with elbow problems. For him, this is like April while everyone else is in midseason form. "There's no excuses," he said. "I make the best pitches I can make. If a couple things go differently, we could have potentially got out of the inning without any runs scoring. But that's baseball. That's why you love it and you hate it." Three more runs later scored on Jose Guillen's bases-loaded, two-run single off Street and a RBI single by Broussard off Joe Kennedy. "We had a three-run lead there, the three best guys in our bullpen were available, [Santiago] Casilla, Street and [Alan] Embree. It just didn't work out tonight." A's starter Lenny DiNardo paid the price for his early wildness. A walk and hit batter set up back-to-back RBI singles by Sexson and Raul Ibanez in the first inning. In the second, another walk -- to Willie Bloomquist -- started the Mariners' four-run rally. Ichiro followed with a single to center, his 1,500th career hit -- third fastest player in history to the level. Jose Vidro singled to score Bloomquist. With two outs, Adrian Beltre crushed a three-run home run on a 2-1 pitch from DiNardo. "I was fighting my mechanics out there," DiNardo said. "I looked at the tape, and I don't think it's anything real serious. Today, it was real serious that I couldn't make the adjustment." DiNardo lasted just three innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits. He had allowed just two earned runs over his previous 25 innings. Mike Piazza had three hits and three RBIs Sunday. "We put up all those runs and don't get a win," said Street. "It's tough with us in our situation in the division. But the guys are still battling hard. That's all we can do. There's a lot of games left. We need to play as hard as we can and at season's end see where we're at."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.