OAKLAND -- It was only fitting that the A's end the first half with yet another close game, like so many that they've played recently. And like most of those high-intensity affairs, Oakland came out on top again on Sunday.
With an ever-growing swarm of seagulls hovering like vultures above him, designated hitter Josh Reddick smacked a double to the left-center gap in the 13th inning. That drove in second baseman Jemile Weeks, giving the A's a win in their final game before the All-Star break, 2-1, over the Mariners.
"At the end of the day, we fought through the seagulls and we made it happen," Weeks said with a smile.
Oakland went 5-1 in its last week of the first half of the season, and four of those wins came with the winning run scored in the seventh inning or later. Three were walk-off victories, including the triumph on Sunday afternoon.
And after the A's got back to the .500 mark with Friday's win for the first time since May 22, they will stay there until the second half begins thanks to Sunday's victory, ending the first half at 43-43.
The win was Oakland's eighth walk-off win of the season, five more than they had all of last year.
"It feels like we play one-run games every game we play," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's pretty apropos to end the half with a game like that. Certainly would've liked to do it earlier, but a win's a win."
"We got a lot of young guys, we got a lot of energy to last these long games," Reddick added. "We're not going to give up no matter what the score is. Come off a rough loss last night, picking up Bartolo and the bullpen. We just felt like it was a good day for us to have."
Though Sunday's Turn Back the Clock day was dedicated to the 1955 Seattle and Oakland teams of the Pacific Coast League, the action more approached a game from the Dead Ball era with the excellent performances from both starting pitchers and bullpens.
The Mariners' Felix Hernandez stranded baserunners almost every time he allowed them, and the Athletics' Colon worked with ruthless efficiency.
Colon was commanding his fastball perhaps better than he has all season, throwing just 14 balls compared to 79 strikes. He threw a first-pitch strike to 32 of the 34 batters he faced in his 8 2/3 innings, and in between Dustin Ackley's single to lead off the game and his single in the sixth inning, Colon set down 17 Mariners in a row, striking out five.
It was the second straight solid start for the veteran right-hander since his return from a right oblique strain, and it was the 20th time in the A's last 23 games that the starting pitcher allowed two earned runs or less.
"He throws a lot of strikes and is real effective with the inside fastball," Ackley said. "He starts it in off the plate and kind of runs it back. When he can locate all his pitches and throw them at any time, it's tough on a hitter."
That sixth-inning single for Ackley, though, led to Seattle's tying run. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a bloop single that landed just fair of the third-base line, and Michael Saunders drove in Ackley with an RBI single.
Melvin said it was difficult for him to take Colon out in the ninth given how well he threw, even with two runners in scoring position, and he called the pitcher's performance "phenomenal." But four Oakland relievers held the tie, continuing the bullpen's strong run in the team's many close games.
After seven innings of zeros for both teams, Reddick was finally set up for his big hit, erasing the disappointment of the offense's missed opportunities earlier in the game.
The game was strikingly similar to Friday's, when the A's tied it in the eighth inning to force extras. This time around, the Mariners were the ones to tie the game and eventually take the game to extra innings.
On both occasions, the A's came through in the end. Their reward? A seven-game improvement over their record at the break last season, a good feeling to cap a surprisingly successful first half, and a .500 or better record at the break for the first time since 2008.
"[We're] just confident," Weeks said. "Anybody can get you at any given time. If one guy gets out, we believe the next guy is going to get it done. That's the way it's been going, and I think it's just going to continue."
"Based on the fact I think at one point we were [nine] games under .500, and we're back to .500, you have to certainly consider yourself a better team at this point," Melvin added.
Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.