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SEA@OAK: Langerhans' long ball puts Seattle up early

OAKLAND -- The Mariners had their day in the sun on Sunday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but that wasn't a good thing as two outfield misplays helped Oakland prevent a Seattle sweep with a 7-1 victory in the final game of the season-opening series.

Milton Bradley lost a ball in the bright sky in the fourth inning to give Kurt Suzuki a double that led to one run and Ryan Langerhans did the same on a two-base hit by Coco Crisp in the seventh that ignited a four-run outburst against rookie reliever Josh Lueke that broke the game open.

Langerhans said there's nothing worse than having the ball dip into the direct glare of the afternoon sun at the very last second, a situation he felt he should have avoided.

"Milton had it tough early on and I could tell it was going to be moving my direction as the game went on," said Langerhans, starting in center field because Gold Glove winner Franklin Gutierrez is on the disabled list with a stomach issue. "That was a ball I should have caught. It wasn't in there until the last minute. If I'd done a little better job getting deeper to start, I could have kept it out of there and come in and made the catch. But I got in a little bad position and then froze on it."

Langerhans hit a home run and made an excellent diving catch in center earlier in the game, but it was the seventh-inning misplay that haunted him.

"It's something that can't happen, especially late in a game like that," said the nine-year veteran.

Crisp, the beneficiary of Langerhans' misplay, understands the situation as well as anyone in his second season as the A's center fielder.

"It's pretty bad out there later in the game," said Crisp, who went 3-for-4 with a double and triple. "Once you get to that sixth inning, it bears down on us in center field and in left. I think left has the worst of it the entire game. They tried to fight it but couldn't come up with it, and luckily it was in our favor."

Seeking just their third 3-0 start in franchise history, the Mariners instead settled for a series victory before heading to Texas to meet the unbeaten Rangers in a three-game set starting Monday night with Erik Bedard on the mound.

Doug Fister went 5 2/3 innings Sunday in his season debut as the Mariners' No. 3 starter, taking the loss after allowing three runs -- two earned -- with eight hits, no walks and two strikeouts.

"He deserved a better fate than that today," Eric Wedge said after enduring his first loss as Mariners manager. "Obviously, the sun got us a couple times. We opened the door for them and they took advantage."

The Mariners didn't provide the tall right-hander much help offensively, and he left with a 3-1 deficit. Lueke then made his Major League debut, striking out Cliff Pennington to strand a pair of runners in the bottom of the sixth before giving up four runs in the seventh.

When Crisp led off the seventh against Lueke with his sun-aided double, things got rocky for the rookie in a hurry as he walked the bases loaded and then gave up a bloop run-scoring single to Hideki Matsui that dropped between Ichiro Suzuki and second baseman Jack Wilson in short right field.

David Pauley replaced Lueke, but forced in two more runs with a hit batter and walk and then yielded a sacrifice fly that left the score at 7-1, with all the runs credited to Lueke.

Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle's other rookie reliever, also made his Major League debut and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Wedge said it was beneficial to get the two youngsters' feet wet.

"Preferably it wouldn't come under those circumstances," he said. "You'd hope it would be in a game that was the flipside of that, but nevertheless, we got them in there."

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez held the Mariners to six hits and a run over seven innings and wriggled out of a jam in his final inning by stranding runners at second and third by getting Ichiro on a bouncer back to the mound and then striking out Chone Figgins on his 116th and final pitch.

"We had a couple different opportunities there to take a lead or at least tie the ballgame, but Gonzalez did a good job," Wedge said. "He made pitches when he needed to and that was the difference." Comments