SEATTLE -- Before beginning the most important home series of the season, Seattle coach Lloyd McClendon had a brief message.
The playoffs for the Mariners start now.
"I told my guys, this is real simple. This is really playoff baseball," McClendon said. "Averages, slumps, all those things are out the window. What you did against a guy last time really makes no difference. It's all about grinding your at-bats out, staying in your inner circle and believing in each other. If you do that you have a good chance to get it done."
Clearly McClendon's team paid attention, and now Seattle is just a half-game behind in the AL wild-card chase after beating Oakland 4-2 on Friday night.
Robinson Cano, Kendrys Morales and Logan Morrison all homered as Seattle took another chunk out of Oakland's wild-card lead that was double digits in early August. Seattle and Kansas City are tied behind the A's, who have dropped 12 of their last 15.
Cano hit his 13th homer in the first inning and Morrison added his eighth in the fifth inning, both off Jason Hammel (10-11). Morales hit a line drive out to right-center field off Eric O'Flaherty in the sixth.
"We played a good game today, but we have to be ready for tomorrow," Cano said.
Seattle starter James Paxton (6-2) pitched six innings despite control trouble. Paxton walked three batters in the third inning alone, but struck out eight and three times left runners stranded in scoring position.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 45th save despite giving up a pair of singles to open the inning. Rodney tied Kazuhiro Sasaki's franchise record for saves in a season. Rodney didn't know about the record until being told postgame.
"It's a lot of saves, 45, but 16 games left want to continue it rolling, pitch good and make good pitches," Rodney said. "It's a good series we have in here right now with Oakland and we see what happens tomorrow."
Cano's homer skimmed the top of the left-field wall and gave Seattle a 1-0 lead. Morrison's drive curled inside the right-field foul pole, breaking a 2-2 tie. Morrison's homer came at the same time fireworks erupted across the street at CenturyLink Field when the Seattle Sounders scored in their MLS match with Real Salt Lake.
PITCHER AT THE PLATE
Hammel was lifted after the fifth despite throwing just 78 pitches, partly because of issues with Oakland's batting order. The A's lost their designated hitter in the bottom of the third inning when Geovany Soto left with back spasms. Derek Norris took over behind the plate but the A's lost their DH in the move.
Hammel batted in the top of the fourth and reached on a fielder's choice after an errant throw allowed Nate Freiman to reach second. Freiman later scored on Sam Fuld's bunt to pull Oakland even at 2-2.
"Kind of unlucky the way it went tonight," Hammel said. "Both pitches that left he yard I would throw them again."
Seattle clinched the season series against Oakland with its 10th win over the A's. The Mariners have won consecutive season series over the A's for the first time since taking three straight from 2001-03.
Athletics: Oakland closer Sean Doolittle was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list after being out with a strained right intercostal muscle. Manager Bob Melvin said Doolittle's return should settle the A's bullpen.
Mariners: OF Dustin Ackley was back in the lineup after missing four games with soreness in his foot and ankle. Manager Lloyd McClendon said Ackley should be able to make it through the final 17 games.
Athletics: Sonny Gray (13-8) is 1-4 with a 5.32 ERA in seven starts since Aug. 6. He does love pitching in Seattle with a 3-0 record and 0.46 ERA in three starts at Safeco Field.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (14-5) makes what could be his final home start of the regular season. Hernandez has at least two more road starts and could pitch the final day of the regular season at home or be held for a potential wild-card game. Hernandez is 19-7 in his career against Oakland and 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts this year.