SEATTLE -- It's anybody's guess as to how long the A's might ride this early season wave of momentum.

But if they do parlay it into something special by season's end, they might circle Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners as one of the key building blocks.

For seven innings, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez cast the familiar spell he's had over their bats dating back to the beginning of last season.

Then the breakthrough. The A's used a combination of patience and timely hitting in the top of the eighth to chase Hernandez from the game, flip a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead and take two out of three from Seattle, which had won 17 of the past 23 games between the clubs.

"Looking back to who we've beat already this season, we know we can beat anybody," A's first baseman Daric Barton said. "We got to (Hernandez) in one inning. Next thing you know, we score four runs."

It was quite the reversal of fortunes, and it gives the A's some momentum going into a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels that begins tonight in Anaheim. They are tied with the Angels for first place in the American League West after Los Angeles' win against Detroit on Sunday night.

Hernandez (2-1) came in with a 6-2 record and 2.10 ERA in nine career starts against the A's, and had won his past five starts against them. He was bidding to become the first pitcher to win six consecutive starts against Oakland since Andy Pettitte did it from September 1996 to August 2000.


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"When you get down to him early in a game, knowing how dominant he's been, your chances seem slim," A's manager Bob Geren said. "To come back and win, it's encouraging. That was a big game."

Adrian Beltre's single off A's starter Joe Blanton scored Jose Lopez in the first to give Seattle the lead. Yunieski Betancourt's solo homer to left in the fourth made it 2-0.

Meanwhile, Hernandez was dealing. He blew several fastballs by the A's that clocked in the 96-97 mph range. He froze Bobby Crosby on a nasty curve for a called third strike in the second inning. Hernandez gave up six hits and had a season-high 10 strikeouts, but he also walked four.

The A's eighth-inning rally started with a walk to Jack Hannahan and a double by Mark Ellis. Barton drew an impressive nine-pitch walk that loaded the bases with no outs.

The A's tied it on Emil Brown's broken-bat, two-run single to left that showed Hernandez the exit, as Cal product Brandon Morrow came on in relief. A walk to Frank Thomas loaded the bases again for Jack Cust, who singled to right to give the A's the lead for good, 3-2.

Ryan Sweeney's RBI single provided some cushion.

Cust had his string of 11 straight games with a walk broken (the third-longest such streak in Oakland history). But he gladly ended that streak in exchange for breaking another.

The slugger had gone 14 at-bats without an RBI, stretching over six games. He was in a 1-for-13 rut before his hit in the eighth, and had struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth.

"It felt good," Cust said. "I came up earlier in the same situation and (Hernandez) pitched me tough. I got a pitch to hit and put it in play."

The rally made a winner of Blanton (2-4), who went seven innings and allowed just the two runs. Blanton has pitched better than his record indicates. On Sunday, he was rewarded with a victory. He's now 5-0 at Safeco Field in his career and 3-2 in head-to-head matchups with Hernandez.

"Baseball is one of those games," Blanton said. "If you hang around and keep it close enough, you always have a chance."

Contact Joe Stiglich at jstiglic@bayareanewsgroup.com.

A'S 4, MARINERS 2

  • TODAY: A's (Chad Gaudin 2-1) at Angels (Jon Garland 3-2) 7:05 p.m. TV: Ch. 36. Radio: 106.9-FM; 1550-AM