Mariners-Athletics Preview

It took some time, but Mike Montgomery probably couldn't have asked for a better start to his major league career with the Seattle Mariners.

After becoming the 12th rookie since 1980 to record back-to-back shutouts, Montgomery looks to continue his recent dominance Sunday against the host Oakland Athletics.

A 2008 first-round pick of Kansas City who was dealt to Tampa Bay in 2012 then to Seattle (37-44) in March, Montgomery (3-2, 1.62 ERA) has shined in six starts since making his major league debut June 2.

The left-hander tossed a five-hitter and struck out 10 without a walk in a 7-0 victory over the Royals on June 23, then yielded his only hit in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 5-0 win at San Diego.

"He's been outstanding," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's shown a lot of poise. I had no idea what to expect when we first got him. Each and every outing he impresses me even more."

Montgomery has a chance to become the first rookie to record three straight shutouts since Orel Hershiser for the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 1984. Randy Johnson was the last Mariners pitcher of any tenure to achieve such a feat in '94.

As Montgomery absorbs his early success and his place in baseball history, he's remained humble and focused.

"I'm just trying to get on top of my game and control what I can control," the 26-year-old, who never recorded a shutout over 168 innings in eight minor league seasons, told MLB's official website.

"I just try to make good pitches and I don't think about any of that stuff. "I'm working with the team ... just having some fun with it because it is fun."

Montgomery hopes the fun continues while trying to help Seattle bounce back from its second shutout in this three-game set, 2-0 on Saturday. The club pounded out 13 hits and four homers in Friday's 9-5 victory, but has been held to eight hits in the two losses.

Kendall Graveman threw seven strong innings to outduel Felix Hernandez and Ben Zobrist drove in both runs to help the A's (38-46) win for the fourth time in six games.

"It feels good," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "It's not like (Hernandez) pitched poorly."

Batting a team-leading .320, leadoff hitter Billy Burns had two hits for a second consecutive game and scored both runs.

Chris Bassitt (0-1, 2.87) makes his second straight start in place of ailing Sonny Gray after allowing a run and five hits in five innings of a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday. Despite the defeat, Bassitt did not give up a walk after yielding nine in his first five appearances.

"No walks," Melvin said. "That's something that we asked him to go down (to Triple-A Nashville) and work on, because he has really good stuff."

In his last outing before being sent to the minors, the right-hander walked a pair while yielding a run in 1 1-3 innings of a 7-2 loss at Seattle on May 9.

He retired Robinson Cano, who is 4 for 8 in the last two games after going 4 for 28 with six strikeouts in the previous seven against the A's.

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