It's not evident the Oakland Athletics are one of the worst teams in batting, runs scored, on-base percentage and slugging percentage this season the way they've been playing lately.
The A's hope to keep the mirage going when they shoot for a fifth straight win tonight in the opener of a three-game series versus the AL West-rival Seattle Mariners at the Coliseum. Oakland is coming off a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox by the bay and recorded its second straight 3-2 win on Wednesday thanks to Jemile Weeks' RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
"We were opportunistic when we needed to be," said A's manager Bob Melvin.
Weeks' hit proved to be the game-winner, while Brandon Moss went 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored. Brandon Inge had two hits and an RBI for the Athletics, winners in 15 of their last 22 games. The Athletics last won five in a row from June 12-16.
Oakland reliever Grant Balfour worked 1 2/3 perfect innings for the win and starter A.J. Griffin got his third straight no-decision in three MLB starts. He gave up two runs -- one earned -- in six innings of work.
The A's, who sit one game below .500, have won four in a row at the Coliseum and are 22-19 as the host. They have homered in 15 straight games (20 total) -- the longest streak since a 17-game run from April 12-May 1, 2002. Oakland owns 81 home runs this season, the most before the All-Star break since clubbing 91 in 2007. It belted only 50 home runs before the break last year and 57 in 2010.
Hoping to get a bit of home run support tonight will be A's left-hander Tommy Milone. Milone had a personal two-start winning streak come to an end with Saturday's 7-2 loss at Texas and gave up six runs -- one earned -- and six hits in five innings. He is 8-6 with a 3.73 earned run average in 16 starts.
Milone has faced the Mariners twice this season, going 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA, and is even more impressive at home with a 5-1 record in six outings. Milone, whose eight wins are the most by an Oakland rookie before the break, has allowed one earned run or fewer in each of his last three starts.
"Every time he takes the mound, I feel good about him pitching," Melvin told the club's website. "Certainly the numbers would suggest that he pitches great here [Oakland]. Now that's not going to happen all the time, but certainly to this point at the season, here we are at the halfway point, he's had a good game here at home every time."
Seattle just went 4-6 on a 10-game homestand and will pay a visit to the Athletics over the weekend. After winning the opener of a three-game series versus Baltimore at Safeco Field, the Mariners lost the last two portions of the set, including Wednesday's 4-2 setback.
Hector Noesi fell to 2-11 on the season and was hit for four runs in five innings to suffer the loss. He has lost eight straight decisions and is winless since May 6.
"He has to be more aggressive. We just need him to take that next step," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge of Noesi.
Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak both had a ninth-inning RBI for Seattle, which is last in the AL West standings. Mariners catcher Jesus Montero left Wednesday's game in the fifth inning with a mild concussion after taking a foul ball off his facemask. Miguel Olivo took over behind the plate and will most likely do so again if Montero is unable to go.
"It happens, it happens to every catcher," Montero said on the team's site. "It was a good impact around my face and I was feeling dizzy. They took me out just to make sure, but thank God nothing happened."
Montero is batting .245 with eight homers and 28 RBI this season.
Kevin Millwood gets the start for Seattle tonight and hopes his ailing right groin is strong enough to take the pounding on the hill. He has left two games already this season due to injury and is 0-2 with a 5.16 earned run average in his last five starts. Millwood departed his previous outing versus Oakland on June 27 after just 2 2/3 innings because of his groin issue and allowed a home run with three strikeouts and no walks.
Millwood, who is 3-6 in 15 starts to go along with a 4.00 ERA, is 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 19 career starts against the A's. The right-hander also is only 2-4 in eight starts away from the Emerald City.
Seattle has won six of 10 encounters with Oakland this season and swept a two- game series at the Coliseum from April 6-7.