After putting an end to a five-game losing streak on Saturday, the Oakland Athletics will try to earn a series victory on Sunday when they face the Seattle Mariners in the rubber match of a three-game set at Safeco Field.
Oakland had its season-long losing streak extended to five games on Friday night when it suffered a 6-3 setback against Seattle.
On Saturday, the Athletics got a bit of revenge, though not without some late drama in pulling out a 4-3 victory.
Leading 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Oakland called on closer Grant Balfour to wrap up the contest. Balfour would allow two baserunners on a walk and a single, but finally sealed the deal for his sixth save when he got Kyle Seager to ground out to second base.
Jed Lowrie went 3-for-4 in the game and Josh Donaldson, Daric Barton and Brandon Moss each hit home runs to carry the offense for the Athletics. Moss' home run in the sixth proved to be the difference as the Athletics evened their record at 19-19.
Jarrod Parker was credited as the winning pitcher for the Athletics as he went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits while striking out five. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook each got a hold to set up Balfour for the save.
Brandon Maurer took the loss for Seattle as he allowed three runs on six hits in five innings of work. Michael Saunders went 2-for-4 in the contest while Kelly Shoppach was 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI for the Mariners, who had won back-to-back games entering play.
Taking to the hill for Oakland on Sunday will be Tommy Milone. The 26-year-old right-hander will be making his eighth start of the season. Through his first seven, Milone is 3-4 with an impressive 3.13 ERA.
Unfortunately, wins have been hard to come by for Milone, especially recently as the Athletics are averaging just 0.8 runs per game in his last four starts, including being blanked twice.
That includes Milone's last start when he took a loss despite pitching seven innings in which he let up just one unearned run. The Athletics lost that game 1-0, wasting arguably Milone's best effort on the campaign. The contest also marked the sixth time in seven starts that Milone has gone at least 6 2/3 innings.
Milone has already seen the Mariners once this season as he battled Seattle in his first start of the 2013 season. In that outing, Milone scattered four hits and two runs over seven innings of work while striking out four. The win was the third in six career starts for Milone against the Mariners, who he has a career 2.63 ERA against.
This season has not been going so great for Joe Saunders, who takes the ball for the Mariners on Sunday.
Entering Sunday's contest, Saunders is sporting a record of 2-4 with an ERA that has ballooned to 6.15. Getting swings and misses has never been Saunders' primary strength, but he has been particularly weak this season with just 14 strikeouts in seven starts.
His most recent outing, last Sunday against Toronto, was one of his first as he let up seven runs on nine hits in five innings of work while failing to get a strikeout for the second time this season.
Saunders will hope that facing a familiar foe will help turn his season around as he will be making his 22nd career start against Oakland on Sunday. That is more than any other opponent he has faced in his nine-year career.
However, Saunders really struggled when he faced Oakland earlier this season. Making his first start of the season, the left-hander allowed four runs on seven hits and did not make it past the fourth inning. Normally, Saunders has been strong against Oakland with a lifetime record of 13-6 and an ERA of 3.57 against the club.
These two division foes have split their six meetings this season. Oakland won 12 of 19 matchups a year ago.