The Seattle Mariners finally return home this evening and will kick off a nine-game homestand with the first of three games against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.

The Mariners have already played four games with the A's, splitting a two-game set with them in Japan before winning both contests in Oakland last weekend.

"It's going to be another Opening Day where I'm going to have to go and shake the manager's hand at home plate again," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. "I've shaken his hand more than a lot of my own players, I think. I think we'll both be ready to move on from the getting called out onto the line on that Opening Day thing."

Felix Hernandez will be facing the A's for the third time already this season and the Mariners have won both of those starts. Hernandez, though, is 1-0 in those outings with a 4.40 ERA. After pitching brilliantly against them in eight innings of the Japan opener, the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 frames. However, Seattle's offense bailed him out in that one, as the Mariners pulled out an 8-7 win.

"We won, so after that, it's no problem," Hernandez said of almost blowing a seven-run lead. "But I was a little angry at the time because it was 7-0 and I was ticked. It's nice to get eight runs. But it's not nice to give up six, you know?"

The Mariners fell to .500 on Thursday when they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Texas Rangers. Kyle Seager hit a solo homer and Miguel Olivo and Alex Liddi each knocked in a run for Seattle, which lost three of the four games in the series.

Jason Vargas (1-1) allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings to take the loss. He struck out six and walked one.

"Their guy threw a good ballgame," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge.

Oakland, meanwhile, comes into tonight's tilt on the heels of their first series win after taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals. The A's rallied for the 5-4 win with a pair of runs off Royals closer Jonathan Broxton in the bottom of the 12th.

Tonight, the A's will rely on veteran righty Bartolo Colon, who is 1-1 with a 5.84 ERA against the Mariners this season. Colon gave up a run in eight innings in Japan, but was hit hard on Saturday by the M's to the tune of seven runs and 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings.

"I think a few pitches were up a little more than we've seen," Melvin said of Colon. "He threw a lot of fastballs like he normally does, but I'm guessing some balls were in the middle of the plate, more so certainly than last time."

Seattle has lost its last two home openers.