The Oakland Athletics will be challenged as they try to bounce back against Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners in the second of a three-game series at O.co Coliseum.
The Mariners took the first game of the series on Friday as Joe Saunders spun seven strong innings to lead them to a 3-2 victory. Saunders allowed only one run over seven innings before Oliver Perez collected the save with a runner on in the final frame.
Mike Zunino hit a solo homer and Raul Ibanez had two hits and an RBI for the Mariners, winners in three of their last four games. The home run was the first of Zunino's short career. He is 2-for-7 with one walk in two games.
"I think it's just pitch selection," said Zunino, the third overall pick of the 2012 draft. "I think I'm becoming more patient and trying to take more pitches, and I think that's helped so far."
Another homer by the rookie catcher may be all Seattle needs on Saturday with Hernandez on the hill. The right-hander shut out Oakland on three hits over 7 2/3 innings on Opening Day and allowed only one run on five hits to the Yankees in his last start. Hernandez, who is 7-4 with a 2.49 ERA, was a victim of poor run support against New York and took a no-decision.
"We can't keep watching this, we have to be better offensively," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said after his ace's most recent start. "When we do create opportunities, we're not taking advantage of it. Having said that, we've got to create more opportunities. You're not going to come through every day, but we sure ought to do better than what we do right now."
Seattle has not scored more than four runs in a nine-inning game since May 27. It will hope to find its stride against an Oakland squad that appeared to be suffering from fatigue following a 3-2 victory on Thursday over New York in a game that lasted 18 innings.
Friday's loss ended Oakland's 11-game home winning streak. Although they couldn't finish off their late rally, the A's received solid contributions from Chris Young and Eric Sogard. Young went 3-for-3 with a solo homer and Sogard added an RBI.
Oakland was without its leading hitter, Josh Donaldson, on Friday as an injured hamstring prevented him from playing. The third baseman is hitting .310 on the season after going 1-of-17 in his last four games.
The hosts also were playing without Coco Crisp, who is listed as day-to-day with a heel injury. Crisp went 6-for-14 with two home runs in the team's four games prior to Friday.
The A's will counter Hernandez with A.J. Griffin, who fell to 5-5 on Sunday after giving up four runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of work against the White Sox. It was the third time in four starts that Griffin has allowed four earned runs although it was his longest outing since the opening month of the year.
The Mariners have taken five of eight matchups with Oakland so far this season and split a four-game set by the bay from April 1-4.