SEATTLE — Christian Bergman had the best start of his career right when the Seattle Mariners needed it.
Bergman pitched into the eighth inning Wednesday night, holding the Oakland Athletics to two hits with a career-high nine strikeouts in Seattle's 4-0 win.
It was the first time in his career Bergman (1-1) had reached the eighth inning in a start, and his strikeout total tied James Paxton for the most in a game by a Mariners pitcher this year. He held Oakland without a hit until the fifth and earned his first win since May 5, 2016, when he was a member of the Rockies. It was his first win as a starter since Sept. 21, 2014.
After the game, Bergman said the strikeouts, more than anything, made him realize this was a special night.
"If I strike out five or six in a game it feels like 10. It's not something I normally do," Bergman said. "It felt like a lot tonight. It was a good night."
Bergman's start gave the Mariners' bullpen a much-needed rest. Seattle has already used nine starters this season, tied for the league high, and the bullpen has been taxed recently.
"We talked before the game what we needed to do to give our bullpen a breather," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I think it was only the second time our starters got us into the eighth inning. It's been a while."
Bergman, who was making his 17th start in 58 career appearances, joined the Mariners when he was selected from Triple-A Tacoma on May 7. He gave up seven hits and three runs over five innings in his previous start at Toronto on Friday. He quickly showed this time out would be different, retiring the first six batters of the game with three strikeouts. He walked just two, one of them coming in the eighth to the final batter he faced.
"He really stepped up and was in total control from the get-go," Servais said.
Jean Segura extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a two-run single in the fifth inning and Nelson Cruz drove in two runs for the Mariners, who took two of three in the series against Oakland.
Jesse Hahn (1-3) gave up four runs — three earned — and five hits in five innings. Oakland has lost five of its last six games.
"Offensively, I don't know that we've looked much worse," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said.
James Pazos relieved Bergman in the eighth and finished the game, retiring all five of his batters.
"That was just awesome to watch," Pazos said of Bergman's performance. "He really just stepped it up today. We needed it for sure, and he got it."
Oakland: Yonder Alonso was pulled from the game in the seventh inning with left knee soreness.
Mariners OF Ben Gamel turned 25 on Wednesday and got his first career triple in the first inning when his drive skipped past right fielder Matt Joyce to the wall. "I think it was my first one in professional baseball, getting a hit on my birthday," Gamel said. "It's been a couple rough birthdays."
Before the game, Seattle recalled RHP Casey Lawrence from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned RHP Chase De Jong to Tacoma. Lawrence was claimed off waivers from Toronto last week. He was 0-3 with an 8.78 ERA for the Blue Jays. De Jong is 0-3 with a 7.40 ERA in six games for the Mariners.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (0-1, 3.78 ERA) will make the 100th start of his career against Boston. Gray is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox.
Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will make his first career start to open Seattle's home series against the White Sox. Gaviglio's only major league appearance was May 11, when he gave up one run and two hits in two innings at Toronto.