Coming off a much-needed victory to remain atop the AL wild-card standings, the Oakland Athletics hope to provide Jon Lester with more support than the last time he faced the Seattle Mariners.
The Tacoma, Washington native tries to help the A's win back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks Sunday in the final scheduled regular-season meeting between the teams.
Mired in a three-game slide and a loser in 12 of 15, Oakland (82-66) overcame a strong outing by Felix Hernandez to win 3-2 in 10 innings Saturday. Josh Donaldson homered and Jed Lowrie drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the 10th to keep the A's one-half game ahead of Kansas City, which has a one-game lead over the Mariners (80-67) for the final wild-card spot.
"It's beautiful," said Oakland second baseman Eric Sogard, who had three hits and an RBI. "Every win is going to be huge now."
Losers of four straight series since taking two of three at Houston from Aug. 25-27, the A's haven't won two straight contests since Aug. 22-23 against the Los Angeles Angels. They haven't accomplished the latter on the road since beating Texas July 26-27.
Lester (14-10, 2.52 ERA) was outpitched by Hernandez while allowing homers to Kyle Seager and Corey Hart in eight innings of a 2-1 home defeat to Seattle on Sept. 3.
"There's nothing more you can really ask for,'' Lester said of that outing. ''Sometimes you just get beat and the ball doesn't fall your way.''
In his next start Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox, the left-hander gave up two runs and again lasted eight in an 11-2 victory to improve to 4-3 with a 2.54 ERA in eight starts since coming over from Boston.
"It's just nice to pitch deep into the game," Lester told MLB's official website. "With pitch counts nowadays and all that stuff, it's tough to go deeper into games."
Lester is 3-3 with a 4.89 ERA in eight starts while pitching near his hometown at Safeco Field. In his most recent outing there last season, the Tacoma Bellarmine Prep star was tagged for five runs and nine hits in five innings of an 11-4 loss with Boston.
Robinson Cano, 5 for his last 16 with two doubles against Lester, looks to homer in a third straight game. He's batting .419 with three home runs and nine RBIs in eight home games versus Oakland this season.
Teammate Chris Young (12-7, 3.35) hopes for a better outing against the A's after he allowed five runs and recorded only two outs in a 6-1 loss Sept 1. The right-hander, though, followed by giving up two unearned runs in five innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-2 win at Texas last Saturday.
After making four straight starts on the road, Young returns to Safeco where he's 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA in his last seven outings. Though he's 0-1 in two starts against the A's there this season, Young has posted a 2.25 ERA while the Mariners have scored one run in those contests.
Donaldson is 1 for 10 lifetime versus Young, but Brandon Moss is 3 for 9 with two homers.