Last weekend's visit from the Seattle Mariners proved to be the beginning of the Oakland Athletics ' current rough stretch. The A's only victory during that set came when Bartolo Colon outpitched Hisashi Iwakuma in the finale.
The 40-year-old Colon looks to win seven straight starts for the first time in his 16-year career Friday night against Iwakuma and the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Oakland (43-32) has dropped five of seven and after losing three of four at Texas, holds a one-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West.
Seattle (32-42) outscored the A's 7-2 to win the first two at the Coliseum before Colon (9-2, 2.89 ERA) allowed two runs over seven innings of a 10-2 victory Sunday.
Despite that win, Oakland has lost six of 10 to Seattle in 2013.
"(The Mariners are) a good team," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website. "We seem to get Felix (Hernandez) quite often. Iwakuma's pitching well. We've seen him a few times too. That may have something to do with it. But they've also been opportunistic offensively against us."
Colon, however, is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his last three starts versus Seattle, and has yielded two runs or fewer in five of his last six matchups. The right-hander has also yielded five runs over 43 innings while winning six consecutive starts for the first time since July 9-Aug. 7, 2004.
"I've run out of superlatives for him," Melvin said. "I think, as consistent as he's been for us, we feel great every time he takes the mound."
Iwakuma (7-2, 2.06) had a string of 31 2-3 innings without allowing an earned run come to an end Sunday when he gave up four in five frames to also snap a five-game winning streak."He's not going to be perfect every time," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of the right-hander, who dropped to 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA against the A's this season. "This was a tough outing for him.
Iwakuma also understands he can't get too careless when opposing a pitcher like Colon."You have to be patient as a starter," Iwakuma said. "You know runs will be tough against a pitcher like Bartolo Colon , but I was not able to come through in tough situations."
Yoenis Cespedes is batting .417 (5 for 12) with two homers and two doubles against Iwakuma, but is 3 for 26 with 13 strikeouts in Oakland's last seven road games.
Josh Donaldson had three hits for Oakland on Thursday, but was thrown out at the plate for the final out of a 4-3 loss to the Rangers. The A's held one-run leads in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings but lost for the fifth time in six road contests."That was as frustrating as any loss we've had," Melvin said. "They played hard on every single pitch and every single out, but it seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong."
Donaldson is 2 for 10 versus Iwakuma, but has batted .368 (7 for 19) in the last five games.
Seattle's Kyle Seager is 2 for 16 in the last five games versus Oakland and 3 for 15 against Colon, but had four hits, including a two-run homer in Thursday's 10-9 loss at Los Angeles. The Mariners blew a pair of seven-run leads to lose for the fourth time in five games since the back-to-back wins at Oakland."It's a tough game from an emotional standpoint," Wedge said.
|June 20, 2013||Derek Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin injury|
|June 11, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 06, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|May 01, 2013||Brett Anderson||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|June 18, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Sore right quad|
|June 08, 2013||Kendrys Morales||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|June 06, 2013||Jesus Sucre||15-Day DL||Left wrist sprain|
|June 04, 2013||Jesus Sucre||Day-to-Day||Left game - left wrist injury|
|June 01, 2013||Jesus Montero||Day-to-Day||Torn left meniscus|
|May 30, 2013||Justin Smoak||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Yoenis Cespedes just feels more comfortable when he plays the outfield.
Cespedes homered twice and Bartolo Colon won his seventh straight start to lead the Oakland Athletics past the Seattle Mariners 6-3 on Friday night.
Limited to DH duty for seven games because of a sore hamstring, Cespedes celebrated his return to left field with a pair of two-run homers.
"Evidently he likes to play the outfield," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "You could see his whole demeanor today, he was just in a better mood."
Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp also went deep for the Athletics, who maintained their one-game lead in the AL West over Texas.
Cespedes homered in the first inning and again in the ninth for his third career multihomer game - all this month, and all when playing left field.
"I can't say I'm 100 percent yet, but it feels great to play in the outfield," Cespedes said through a translator. "When I'm in the outfield, my body's completely up, my body's on fire. The difference is when I'm a DH and I sit down in the dugout and I'm doing nothing, I feel like I'm going down a little bit."
Cespedes' hitting took some of the spotlight off Colon's pitching, but the 40-year-old right-hander was on top of his game, too. Colon (10-2) gave up three runs and seven hits over eight innings, tying unbeaten Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for most wins in the American League.
Colon is 11-1 in his career at Safeco Field, the best record for any pitcher with at least seven decisions in the Mariners' home park.
"He's a veteran guy. He knows himself. He knows what works," said Crisp, who hit a solo homer in the sixth. "It's not a fluke."
Colon, who has relied heavily on his fastball this season, said he feels he's pitching as well as he has since winning the AL Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005. He attributed his recent success to adding more off-speed pitches to the stream of fastballs.
"I think it's because I mix it up better than I did before," Colon said through a translator. "I was always a fastball guy, so now I'm mixing it more."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge , however, said Colon can dominate with only his fastball.
"He knows how to pitch. He recognizes swings," Wedge said. "He does as good a job with his fastball, his movement, where it starts and where it finishes, as anybody in the league."
Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his 18th save this season and 36th in a row dating to May 5, 2012.
Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) lost at home for the first time this season, giving up four runs and six hits - including three homers - in seven innings. His home ERA rose from 0.92 to 1.46.
The matchup between two of the American League's top starters turned into a relative slugfest.
Iwakuma had never given up more than two home runs in a game, and it was the first time in 18 career home starts he allowed more than one homer. He has lost two starts in a row, both to Oakland.
"We really didn't get a whole lot of hits off of him," said Lowrie, who homered leading off the fourth. "We were able to get those big homers, that's the only way we scored off him."
Nick Franklin hit a three-run shot in the third against Colon, the first time the pitcher had allowed a home run or more than two earned runs in a game since May 14, before he started his winning streak.
Cespedes gave Oakland a two-run lead in the first inning with a shot that bounced off the upper-deck railing above the left field out-of-town scoreboard. It wasn't the first big hit Cespedes has had against Iwakuma - he is 6 for 15 with three homers against the Mariners' starter.
The Mariners were hurt by a baserunning blunder in the sixth. After a leadoff single, Kyle Seager was thrown out trying to take two bases on a passed ball. Kendrys Morales ' single and Raul Ibanez 's walk gave Seattle two on with one out, but the Mariners were unable to push a run across.
Oakland added two insurance runs in the ninth off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen . Lowrie led off with a single and Cespedes followed with another homer to left field, his 15th.
NOTES: Oakland C John Jaso was a late scratch because of a left palm abrasion he got when sliding Thursday. ... Seattle promoted pitching prospect Taijuan Walker to Triple-A Tacoma. Walker, the Mariners' top pick in the 2010 draft, was 4-7 with a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 14 starts for Double-A Jackson. ... Two of Seattle's 2013 draft picks, Austin Wilson (second round) and Lachlan Fontaine (13th), took batting practice before the game.