Charging Mariners shoot for sweep of A's

( - The Seattle Mariners will try to continue to gain ground on the first-place Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon as they go for a three-game sweep at Safeco Field.

Behind an outstanding pitching performance from Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners captured a 6-2 victory on Saturday night.

Iwakuma (8-4) shined despite being unable to lock down the shutout in the ninth. He ultimately gave up just five hits and two earned runs, both in the last inning, while striking out eight in 8 2/3 innings of work for his third consecutive victory.

Yoervis Medina relieved Iwakuma and secured the final out.

The majority of Seattle's damage came via the long ball. Kyle Seager smashed his 15th homer of the year in the fifth, a two-run shot, and Robinson Cano's seventh of the season in the eighth inning plated three.

Seager and Cano combined for five hits, while Corey Hart and Endy Chavez added two hits apiece.

Seattle has won five of its past six versus Oakland.

Jesse Chavez (7-6) yielded 10 hits, two walks and three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Brandon Moss connected on a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, which prompted Iwakuma's exit. He now has 20 homers and 65 RBI on the season.

The Athletics will send Sonny Gray to the hill on Sunday. The All-Star snub has been outstanding this season, going 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA while striking out 103 batters in 118 innings pitched.

Gray has won three consecutive decisions, most recently earning a victory over San Francisco on July 8 after allowing just one earned run over seven innings of work while striking out eight.

"Once starters start to get on a roll like that, they're really kind of competing with each other and pushing each other," A's manager Bob Melvin said of his staff. "The next guy wants to be the guy to go out there and do just as well if not better, so it becomes kind of fraternal thing amongst starters."

The second-year Vanderbilt product actually has a better ERA on the road (2.91) than he does at the pitcher-friendly confines of Oakland Coliseum (3.01).

For the Mariners, Chris Young will try to continue his career resurgence. The 6-foot-10 right-hander is 8-5 with a 3.08 ERA in his first season in Seattle after not pitching in the majors in 2013.

Young has allowed two earned runs or less in five straight starts, although he was the hard-luck loser his last time out after pitching seven strong innings against Minnesota on July 8 yielding two runs.

The 35-year-old owns a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings pitched against Oakland this season, which includes a win back on May 5.