A's shutout again by Seattle, 4-0

All the right things are being said about Oakland's sudden offensive slump.

The concern still remains.

"It is certainly not fun," A's second baseman Mark Ellis said. "We feel you are wasting a lot of good starts in games you could be winning."

Friday night wasn't one of those starts, not with the struggles Tyson Ross (1-2) had in his first start of the season. But it was another close game where the A's offense couldn't come alive in a 4-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

Rookie Michael Pineda dazzled again, throwing six shutout innings and giving up just five hits in winning his third straight game.

But there were a number of missed chances for the A's, who've now gone scoreless for 18 straight innings.

"I've obviously well aware of it and frustrated with it," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "The guys are frustrated about it. They are just going to have to snap out of it and keep battling."

Oakland lost its third straight and is just 1-4 against Seattle to start this season. They were handcuffed on Friday by the Mariners 6-foot-7, 260-pound rookie, who became the first pitcher in Mariners history to start his career with four consecutive quality starts.

And Pineda's outing came on the heels of reigning Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez throwing 7 2-3 shutout innings on Thursday night in a 1-0 win.

"It's a tough one-two combo they've got there," Ellis said. "Anytime you face a guy for the firs time, it is a little more difficult. He has a great arm, a really good arm. It is a very good one-two combo."

But Oakland managed to get Pineda (3-1) out after six innings due to a rising pitch count. A lot of his 97 pitches were racked up in the second inning where he threw 31 pitches and allowed consecutive walks to lead off before getting strikeouts of Ellis and Kevin Kouzmanoff and a groundout by Cliff Pennington.

Pineda also got great defense at times. Kouzmanoff led off the fifth with a single and stood at third with one out. Pineda came inside on Coco Crisp, forcing a grounder to first. Adam Kennedy threw home to Miguel Olivo and got the tag on Kouzmanoff, who might have scored with a better slide.

Jack Wilson also started a key double play in the seventh with a sliding stop that was turned nicely by shortstop Brendan Ryan.

David Pauley and Aaron Laffey worked two innings of relief. Jamey Wright entered in the ninth and loaded the bases with one out before Brandon League got Conor Jackson to ground into a game-ending double play for his fifth save in five chances.

"It's unusual to get to this stage of the season and you have a couple of guys with a hot start and a couple with a cold start — we just haven't had anybody with a real hot start," Geren said. "I look forward to the day when they start falling in there. It will happen."

Ross made his first start of the season after a trio of appearances out of the bullpen, but could not get command and throw strikes. Already limited to under 100 pitches, Ross was done after 4 1-3 innings thanks to throwing 45 balls compared to just 31 strikes. He was charged with three runs, walked four and struck out none.

Wilson's two-out single in the second scored Kennedy, and Kennedy followed with a two-run single in the fifth to give Seattle a 4-0 lead.

"Not what I wanted it to be, that's for sure. I fell behind a bunch of hitters and put them in good hitters counts. Four walks wasn't ideal," Ross said. "It was just one of those off days."

NOTES: Seattle 1B Justin Smoak, on the bereavement list following the death of his father, is expected to rejoin the Mariners in Detroit on Tuesday. ... Friday was the birthday of Ross (24) and Oakland reliever David Purcey (29). Purcey threw 1 1-3 innings of relief and didn't allow a hit. ... Seattle LF Milton Bradley left in the third inning with lower back spasms. ... Seattle has pushed LHP Erik Bedard back and will have Hernandez start on normal rest Tuesday at Detroit. Bedard will now go on Wednesday.