Langerhans hits game-winner as Mariners beat A’s

  • By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, August 25, 2009 11:32pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE — Three days ago, Ryan Langerhans nearly impaled himself into the left-field wall in Cleveland trying to make a diving catch.

Tuesday night, Langerhans shook away the remnants of a sore right side and stiff neck — along with some supreme offensive frustration by the Seattle Mariners — by hitting a game-winning two-run homer in the 10th inning to beat the Oakland A’s 4-2 at Safeco Field.

Langerhans, who entered the game in right field in the ninth inning, stung a 2-2 pitch from A’s reliever Craig Breslow into the right-field seats. It was his third home run this season, and his second to end a Mariners victory.

His 11th-inning homer on Aug. 7 beat Tampa Bay 7-6, and teammate Mike Sweeney reminded him of that before his 10th-inning at-bat this time.

“You’ve been there before,” Sweeney told Langerhans. “Put the tape in the VCR and hit play.”

Manager Don Wakamatsu called Langerhans his secret weapon.

“That’s twice he’s done that against left-handed pitching,” Wakamatsu said. “It’s a nice feeling when you have different guys contributing every night.”

Every night? Different players contributed throughout this one, especially on defense as the Mariners continued their struggles to score.

Michael Saunders caught two challenging fly balls to left field in the second inning and Bill Hall, playing his second straight game in right field with Ichiro Suzuki out with a tight calf, made two running catches in the third.

First baseman Russell Branyan not only hit a solo home run in the second inning — his 31st this season — he made stellar defensive plays in each of the final two innings. He back-handed a ball to his right in the ninth inning and threw to pitcher David Aardsma to get Cliff Pennington, then played bumper-cars with the tarp near the stands down the right-field line to catch Scott Hairston’s pop foul for the third out in the 10th.

“Defensively, I thought this was one of the better games we’ve played all year,” Wakamatsu said.

It had to be, because the offense wobbled again, saved only by the long ball.

The Mariners were headed down a well-traveled road of run-scoring futility, having gotten only Branyan’s second-inning homer and an unearned run in the eighth inning to push the game into extra innings.

Until that eighth-inning run, the only runs the Mariners had scored in 35 innings had come via home runs.

Even that run was a gift.

Gutierrez was on second base with two outs when Jose Lopez chopped a grounder between shortstop and third. A’s third baseman Adam Kennedy moved toward the ball but so did Gutierrez, who made like Phil Esposito in the crease and formed a perfect screen as he ran by. The ball glanced off Kennedy’s glove and Gutierrez rounded third and sprinted home, tying the score 2-2.

Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith wasn’t his sharpest but battled his way through 61/3 innings, scattering nine hits. He pitched out of a jam in the fourth inning but couldn’t escape three hits in the seventh when the A’s scored on Kennedy’s one-out single to take a 2-1 lead.

Shawn Kelley got the final two outs of that inning and pitched around a two-out single in the eighth and Aardsma pitched a perfect ninth, as did Mark Lowe in the 10th.

Langerhans ended it a few minutes later.

Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com\marinersblog

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