A's seek to avoid home sweep at hands of Mariners

After winning 11 consecutive games at home, the Oakland Athletics are in danger of being swept by the Seattle Mariners in a three-game series at Coliseum.

Felix Hernandez spun seven scoreless innings and Henry Blanco clubbed a grand slam as the Mariners blanked Oakland, 4-0, in the middle portion of the series on Saturday. Michael Morse went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and Nick Franklin notched a double for the visitors, who have won four of their last five games.

"It was the perfect pitch to hit a grand slam on," said Blanco, who had just joined the team one day earlier. "You always want to make a good impression the first time out. I wanted to be aggressive, and I did."

Hisashi Iwakuma will look to submit a gem of his own as he takes the mound for Seattle on Sunday. The 31-year old has been unstoppable in recent weeks as he is hasn't allowed an earned run over the past 28 2/3 innings.

"He's been about as consistent as any pitcher in baseball, and for quite a while now," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge.

Iwakuma improved to 7-1 and improved his ERA to 1.79 on Monday as he held the Astros to four hits with twice as many strikeouts over seven innings. He will be tested in this one as Oakland is set to counter with a red-hot Bartolo Colon.

The A's currently hold a two-game lead over Texas for first place in the AL West thanks in large part to the efforts of Colon. The 40-year old righty held the Yankees scoreless for six innings on Tuesday en route to his fifth consecutive winning decision.

"He's throwing the ball great," A's catcher Derek Norris said. "You couldn't ask any more of him. He's a great competitor and a great pitcher, and it's a pleasure to be back there working with him."

Colon has an astounding 0.29 ERA over his last 31 innings, but he did walk a season-high four batters his last time out.

Oakland's offense sputtered for the second game in a row on Saturday despite the returns of Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson to the lineup. Crisp went 2-for-4 in the losing effort and has a .500 batting average over his last five games. Donaldson, who owns a team-best average of .305, went hitless on Saturday and is 1-for-21 at the plate in his last five appearances.

The Mariners have taken six of nine matchups with Oakland so far this season and split a four-game set by the bay from April 1-4.