By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — While the Seattle Mariners’ top task all along was just getting into the postseason, playing home games in the wild-card round was a very close second.
Accomplishing that will now take some significant help from others following Seattle’s 10-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
“There’s been a lot of emotion around our team here in the last four or five days and I think you saw a little bit of the wind out of our sails today as we got into that ballgame,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Mariners starter Robbie Ray was tagged for home runs by Shea Langeliers, Cristian Pache and Nick Allen, and the hangover from the excitement of Seattle clinching its first postseason berth in 21 years two days earlier seemed to finally hit on Sunday.
Oakland starter James Kaprielian no-hit the Mariners for 5 2/3 innings before giving up a two-out single to Ty France in the sixth inning. Kaprielian (5-9) struck out seven, and beat Seattle for the third time this season.
Langeliers added a second homer in the ninth inning, a three-run shot.
“I think overall the club played really well today and it was a good finish for (Kaprielian) in terms of his bounce back from some struggles in the middle of the season to ending this month and really performing well,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said.
Seattle’s loss combined with Toronto’s victory over Boston pushed the Blue Jays’ lead to 2 ½ games in the race for the top wild-card spot and home-field advantage for the three-game series.
Seattle does hold the tiebreaker over the Blue Jays, but the Mariners’ only hope now of catching Toronto relies on a significant amount of help from Baltimore. The Orioles must take two of three games from Toronto, and Seattle must sweep a four-game series from Detroit.
Seattle still has a 1 ½-game lead over Tampa Bay.
“We’re at the point where you almost got to win out, and we certainly do now,” Servais said.
Ray’s lackluster outing didn’t help his case to be part of Seattle’s three-man rotation for the wild-card series. Ray (12-12) failed to make it through the sixth inning, allowing five earned runs for the second time in his past four starts.
The three home runs allowed to the A’s tied a season high that came in his second start with the Mariners back on April 13 in Chicago. He’s given up at least two homers in three of his last five outings.
“This is one that you just flush it, move on,” Ray said. “I’m not gonna let it take away from what I’ve been able to do this year. … This is an easy one to flush and get rid of.”
Ray walked three, all in the second inning when he loaded the bases with no outs. He escaped that jam without giving up a run, helped in part by a terrific defensive play by catcher Luis Torrens to get a force out at home.
But it was a shaky all-around performance from the lefty.
“He wasn’t sharp. He walked three guys in an inning; we’ve never seen him do that before,” Servais said. “There was a lot of close pitches, a lot of pitches on the edge there and then he made some mistakes the middle of the plate that cost him with a long ball. So again, you have to just let this one go.”
Langeliers’ homer was his fifth of the season. Pache’s third home of the year came after a throwing error by Seattle’s Abraham Toro allowed Jonah Bride to reach. And Allen’s fourth homer was a two-run shot with two outs in the sixth inning and ended Ray’s outing.
Langeliers’ second homer in the ninth came off Penn Murfee, but he should have been out of the inning after Seth Brown’s pop fly fell in front of Jesse Winker.
Winker hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as Seattle avoided the shutout.
Kaprielian continued to post terrific numbers against the Mariners. In his last four starts against Seattle, Kaprielian has allowed three runs and nine hits in 24 innings pitched. Kaprielian has a 2.80 ERA and .178 batting average against in eight career starts against Seattle.
Mariners: CF Julio Rodríguez (lower back strain) should be activated off the injured list and return to the lineup on Monday, Servais said. Rodríguez went through an extensive workout on Sunday. Servais said he’s not sure if Rodríguez would play center field or be the designated hitter opening the series with Detroit.
Athletics: RHP Adrián Martínez (4-6, 6.08) makes his last start of the season as the A’s open a three-game series against the Angels. Martinez is 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA in his last four starts.
Mariners: RHP George Kirby (8-4, 3.21) makes the final regular season start of his rookie season. Kirby allowed one run over six innings in his last start against Texas.
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