Mariners kick off set with A's

The Mariners put on a power display on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to avoid a fourth straight setback. Their bats did very little the last time they squared off against the Athletics' Brandon McCarthy.

McCarthy tries to hit 10 victories on the year tonight for Oakland, which will try to beat Seattle starter Jason Vargas for the fourth time this season in the opener of a three-game series.

The right-handed McCarthy threw his first shutout of the season and fourth complete game when he held the Mariners to three hits and matched a season high with 10 strikeouts in a victory on Sept. 3. He had dropped his first two decisions to Seattle this season, but has a 1.14 earned run average in the three starts.

McCarthy has pitched consecutive one-run outings, going seven innings in each game. He beat the Tigers on Sept. 15 before getting a no-decision versus the Rangers on Wednesday. The 28-year-old allowed six hits without a walk in an eventual 3-2 setback and brings a 9-8 season mark and 3.26 ERA into this outing.

While McCarthy looks to hit double-digit wins for the first time in his career, Vargas will be trying to avoid a fourth loss this year to the A's. He is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA over the first four encounters.

The left-hander is 9-13 with a 4.38 ERA on the season, setting a new career high for wins in a season, and won his second straight decision on Tuesday. He yielded four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits over six innings at Minnesota. It was only the third victory for the 28-year-old Vargas since starting the season a solid 6-5 with a 3.57 ERA.

The Mariners hope to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat tonight after getting outscored, 24-11, in a three-game sweep at Texas.

Seattle got homers from Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Kyle Seager and Chris Gimenez in Sunday's finale, but Texas added four home runs of its own to hand the M's a 12-5 defeat.

"That's what you're supposed to do with pitches that get left over the plate," Gimenez said of Texas' homers, which included a grand slam in the seventh. "They definitely take advantage of it and put so much pressure on us, the pitching staff."

Charlie Furbush gave up six hits and six runs -- five earned -- over 4 1/3 frames for the Mariners.

Oakland takes the field one day after playing spoiler in Anaheim on Sunday. The A's dealt the Angels' wild card chances a serious blow by scoring four runs in the ninth inning for a 6-5 triumph, Oakland's third in four games.

Josh Willingham led off the frame with a homer and the Athletics later scored a run on a wild pitch before Kurt Suzuki kept the rally going with an RBI double. Coco Crisp then capped the comeback with a sacrifice fly.

"We came back against a team fighting for a playoff spot," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Probably the best win I've seen for us this season."

Andrew Bailey worked around a two-out walk in the ninth to secure Oakland's victory.

Oakland played again without Cliff Pennington due to a left oblique injury and he might not play in this series, while David DeJesus is not expected to play tonight after suffering a right hip contusion running into the wall on a catch in the fifth frame.

The A's swept a three-game set at home when these clubs last met, but the Mariners still lead the season series, 9-7.