OAKLAND) — With six straight wins, Barry Zito says he’s just warming up.
Zito overcame a first-pitch home run by Ichiro Suzuki and the Oakland Athletics went on to beat the Seattle Mariners 10-4 Thursday.
“I don’t really feel locked it, per se, like I was last season. I’m still trying to get a feel for the season,” he said. ‘Once you get 120-130 innings in, that’s when things start clicking for me.”
Zito, who has a 13-game regular-season winning streak at the Coliseum, went 11-1 in his final 13 starts last season, concluding with a nine-game winning streak.
On Thursday, Zito (7-2) allowed three runs on eight hits over 6 1-3 innings with one strikeout. But things didn’t go his way at the start.
Suzuki lofted a home run about 10 feet inside the foul pole in right field to open the game. It was his first home run of the season and his second career leadoff homer, with his other one coming at Los Angeles last July 6.
Suzuki also extended his hitting streak to 15 games. The reigning AL MVP, who had a career-high 23-game hitting streak last season, is in the midst of his third streak of 11 or more games this season.
“There are not many ways to get him out,” Zito said. “He doesn’t even fly out that much.”
Suzuki, who is batting .384 to lead the majors, went 3-for-3, giving him a league-leading 17 multihit games.
“If anybody’s got a chance to hit .400, he’s the guy who can do it,” A’s manager Art Howe said.
Miguel Tejada homered and drove in four runs and Eric Chavez drove in three as Oakland split the four-game series. The Athletics have won 10 of their last 15 games.
James Baldwin (4-5), who was 7-2 with a 4.06 ERA against the A’s coming into the game, lasted just 2 2-3 innings. He allowed five runs on five hits with three walks.
Tejada tied it in the bottom of the first with an RBI grounder to score Randy Velarde, who doubled.
The Mariners got a scare when right fielder Charles Gipson slammed into the wall in right-center while trying to snag Velarde’s double. Gipson appeared to injure his right arm, but he stayed in the game.
Seattle went up 3-1 in the third on Bret Boone’s two-run single.
The A’s reclaimed the lead in the bottom half. After Eric Byrnes hit a solo homer, Velarde reached on shortstop Desi Relaford’s throwing error and Scott Hatteberg walked — setting the stage for Tejada’s homer into the left field seats for a 5-3 lead.
“Those guys go out there and swing the bats. You make one mistake and they punish you,” Baldwin said. “I tried to get the ball inside to Tejada and he hits it out of the park. That changed the momentum of the game.”
Chavez hit an RBI single in the fifth, then added a two-run double in the A’s four-run seventh. Adam Piatt also hit a two-run double.
Suzuki had a sacrifice fly in the ninth.