SEATTLE -- Making his first start in nearly three weeks, Erik Bedard managed to surprise himself.
Instead of struggling to find the strike zone, Bedard was dominant, looking exactly like the pitcher the Mariners believed they were getting to be the ace of their staff.
Bedard returned from the disabled list to give up just two hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and the Mariners got some unlikely offense from Greg Norton in their 5-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
Having not started since April 8 with inflammation in his left hip, Bedard's only mistakes were four walks, a double to Bobby Crosby in the fifth and Emil Brown single in the seventh. Bedard (2-0) struck out four and threw just 95 pitches.
"I felt pretty good," Bedard said. "I wasn't expecting (to go) that (long), but went through good and we won the game."
Bedard snapped a three-game slide for Seattle, providing the losing-streak-stopping lift the Mariners hoped they were getting when they sent five players to Baltimore in exchange for Bedard in February. He was strong from the start, needing just seven pitches to get out of the first inning and constantly keeping the A's guessing with his snapping fastball and offspeed pitches.
Bedard threw 19 first-pitch strikes and there were only two fly ball outs off Bedard that reached the outfield.
"He really looked great. He had everything working, he had great control. He really threw the ball well," Seattle manager John McLaren said.
If Bedard's performance was surprising, then Norton's offensive contribution was a complete shock. Having just eight at-bats all season, Norton came up with three hits and three RBI, including a two-run double in the eighth that proved to be the winning runs.
Norton started in place of Jose Vidro as Seattle's designated hitter. McLaren said afterward that the team hasn't lost any confidence in the struggling Vidro, but that Norton's bat might be worked into the lineup more.
"I was just able to get some decent swings on balls tonight," Norton said. "As bench players we do a lot of extra work and when you get that opportunity to get in there you hope to produce."
Although Norton and Bedard came through for the Mariners, their bullpen continued to be shaky, including closer J.J. Putz, who gave up two runs in the ninth on Daric Barton's one-out single with the bases loaded. Putz got a weak pop up from Kurt Suzuki for the second out, but walked Mark Ellis on four pitches to load the bases again. Putz finally ended it, getting a check-swing grounder from Mike Sweeney out in front of home plate for the final out.
"It started in the zone and at 98 mph, it ran up and in," Sweeney said. "I didn't get the job done."
Oakland's Justin Duchscherer (1-1) returned from the disabled list as well Saturday after being out since April 8 with a strained right biceps. Duchscherer, making the switch from being a reliever to a starter, gave up just two runs in five innings, but manager Bob Geren cut short his night after just 73 pitches, keeping him to a limited pitch count. Duchscherer was hoping to make six innings and fell to 0-5 in his career against Seattle.
"I'm pleased with the fact my body felt good. I had no problems," Duchscherer said. "I threw my pitches pain free."
Seattle pieced together its runs thanks to key doubles.
Yuniesky Betancourt doubled with one out in the third and scored on Ichiro Suzuki's floating single to center. In the fifth, Norton singled and went to third on Richie Sexson's double into the left-field corner. Norton then scored on Brad Wilkerson's infield single.
Norton then drove home Beltre with a single to center in the sixth after Beltre doubled, before Norton capped the night with his double in the eighth.
- Crosby's double was Oakland's first hit since the third inning Friday night.
- Seattle third base coach Sam Perlozzo tore the meniscus in his left knee and coached from the bench. It's unclear exactly how the injury happened, but he will have surgery soon. In the interim, first base coach Eddie Rodriguez will move over to third and bench coach Jim Riggleman will coach at first. That was the setup Saturday.
- The game was delayed for a few seconds in the fourth inning when fireworks went off across the street at Qwest Field for the Supercross Series.