It wasn't long ago when the Oakland Athletics were at their lowest point of the season.
But after matching their longest winning streak of the season, things are really starting to look up for the surging A's.
Oakland will try to move above .500 for the first time in nearly seven weeks Saturday night when it continues its series against the visiting Seattle Mariners .
Since dropping three straight at Arizona to fall a season-high nine games below the break-even point, Oakland (42-42) has gone 16-7 to get back to .500 for the first time since it was 22-22 on May 22.
The A's have a chance to move above that mark - they were last there May 21 - after Chris Carter 's walkoff three-run homer in Friday's 4-1, 11-inning victory over Seattle (35-50).
While the A's have homered in 16 consecutive games - the club's longest streak since a 17-game stretch April 12-May 1, 2002 - the pitching staff has carried the club this month with an 0.96 ERA.
With Tommy Milone throwing seven innings of one-run ball Friday, the A's set an Oakland record with seven consecutive starters giving up one earned run or fewer.
Saturday's starter Jarrod Parker (5-3, 2.46 ERA) will look to continue that as Oakland goes for its first six-game run since June 15-21, 2011.
By yielding one run in 6 2-3 innings of Monday's 6-1 victory over Boston, the rookie right-hander became the first pitcher since Ferdie Schupp of the New York Giants in 1913-17 to allow one run or fewer 10 times in his first 14 career starts."It's just cool," said Parker, 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his last four outings since getting tagged for six runs in an 8-3 loss at Arizona on June 9. "Obviously it's something I never really thought of and didn't think it was possible at all. ... I do what I can and will try to do less than one run every time."
In his first start against the Mariners, Parker allowed one run in seven innings of a 2-1 road win June 27.
He'll face a Seattle club that's batting .174 with 22 total runs scored during a 4-8 skid."Unless they're just not paying attention or are just dumb, they should be able to find a way to get back to it and be more consistent," manager Eric Wedge said. "But you have to be much better than this offensively."
Trying to avoid their first four-game slide since a six-game stretch June 9-15, the AL-worst Mariners will give the ball to Jason Vargas (7-7, 4.31) on Saturday.
The left-hander is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in five starts since his last victory, but he took a positive step Sunday with eight strong innings in a 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Red Sox.
"It was good," Vargas told the Mariners' official website. "I attacked the strike zone, got them to put the ball in play early."
Vargas, though, has already allowed as many homers this season (22) as he did in 2011 when he threw a career-high 201 innings.
In three starts against the A's this season - one in Oakland, one in Seattle and one in Tokyo on March 29 - Vargas has given up two homers, with both coming off the bat of rookie left fielder Yoenis Cespedes .
Five of Cespedes' nine home runs have come in the 11 games versus Seattle.
The Mariners have hit seven homers against their AL West foes in 2012.
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|June 13, 2012||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|June 23, 2012||Collin Cowgill||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|June 20, 2012||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 18, 2012||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 18, 2012||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 13, 2012||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|June 06, 2012||Andrew Carignan||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jason Vargas already had an efficient night - and his job became that much easier as his defense turned double plays to shorten his outing.
Vargas pitched a seven-hitter to win for the first time in more than a month, and the Seattle Mariners snapped Oakland's five-game winning streak with a 7-1 victory against the Athletics on Saturday night.
Kyle Seager hit a bases-loaded double to drive in three, Brendan Ryan added a two-RBI double in the second and Ichiro Suzuki singled up the middle in the fifth to end a career-worst 0-for-23 hitless stretch as the Mariners scored their most runs since a 14-10 loss at Arizona on June 20.
"Tonight, that's what we're looking for if anybody was wondering," manager Eric Wedge said. "That's a complete ballgame."
Vargas tossed his sixth career complete game and first since July 6 last year at Oakland. He struck out six and walked one in a 107-pitch gem that featured the club record-matching four double plays.
All the scoring meant a lot, too.
"That's always great when we can put up multiple runs an inning," Vargas said. "That's huge for us. Our pitching staff can pitch with a lead."
Casper Wells homered to help Vargas (8-7) end a five-start winless stretch in which he went 0-3 since a win at Anaheim on June 4.
Vargas allowed his majors-high 23rd home run to Josh Reddick in the first, but during one stretch late in the game retired 13 straight. Reddick became the first A's player since Nick Swisher in 2006 to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break.
Reddick also ran from right field into center to make a diving catch and rob Suzuki of a hit leading off the third.
"He belongs and I think he believes that he is one of the elite right fielders in the league," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the first when John Jaso singled and center fielder Coco Crisp appeared to lose the ball in the sun for a two-base error, allowing Michael Saunders to score.
Reddick's homer in the bottom half gave the A's a longball in 17 straight games, their most since also doing so in 2002. They haven't gone more than 17 games in a row with a homer since a pair of 18-game stretches in 1999.
Seattle's offense bounced back against Oakland starter Jarrod Parker (5-4) a day after the A's won 4-1 in 11 innings Friday night on Chris Carter 's game-ending three-run homer.
"A game we should win, a game we did win and we've got a chance to win the series," Ryan said. "It seems like there was a little more energy."
Parker was tagged for six hits and six runs - five earned - in 4 2-3 innings to have his three-game winning streak snapped. The right-hander, who beat the Mariners at Safeco Field on June 27 striking out a career-high nine, struck out six and walked two. Parker had allowed one or fewer runs in each of his previous four starts.
A's cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes went 0 for 3 with a walk and is just 1 for 19 on the homestand, though lately has looked fully healthy from a strained left hamstring that sidelined him for nine games in a 10-game stretch last month.
Suzuki, who'd been mired in a 0-for-23 funk since a seventh-inning single June 30 against Boston, also singled in the seventh after starting a game batting second for the first time in his career as Wedge tried to get him going. After his single in the fifth, Suzuki stole his 12th base.
It was just the third time in Suzuki's career he had a hitless streak of 20 games or longer and topped a 0-for-22 slump from July 30-Aug. 5, 2005.
Wedge plans to keep Dustin Ackley in the leadoff spot and Suzuki second again Sunday.
"I don't want to just cruise into the break not trying to do everything we can do," Wedge said. "It's one helluva frustrating process to sit down and put a lineup together right now because people aren't doing their job. After a while, you've got to get tired of getting your teeth kicked in."
There was a brief delay in the middle of the seventh when an advertising sign behind home plate got stuck on white.
Notes: Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez , on the seven-day concussion list since June 29, isn't likely to return until after the All-Star break and is expected to play a couple of rehab games first. ... Suzuki was 2 for 4 lifetime batting in the No. 2 hole, both as a pinch-hitter when he then stayed in the game. He did so during his AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP 2001 season and again in 2002, both at Texas. ... Mariners C Jesus Montero , recovering from a mild concussion after taking a foul ball from Baltimore's Robert Andino off the facemask Wednesday, took part in baseball activities and still hoped to play Sunday's series finale. Wedge said he won't catch yet but could DH. ... The A's rotation for their three-game series at Minnesota after the All-Star break: A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone , Parker. ... Oakland opening day starter Brandon McCarthy , on the DL for a second time with a strained throwing shoulder, has played catch for two straight days. "That's a good sign," Melvin said. ... Sunday's game is "Turn Back the Clock" at the Oakland Coliseum, with the A's set to wear 1955 Oakland Oaks uniforms, while the Mariners will be the Seattle Rainiers.