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Thu, Apr 4, 2013 - 3:35 PM ET
 

Mariners-Athletics Preview

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After a quiet first two games, the Oakland Athletics finally showed some punch their last time out.

The Athletics look to stay hot at the plate Thursday afternoon and salvage a four-game split with the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Oakland (1-2) went a combined 6 for 60 and scored just one run in opening 0-2 before breaking out during Wednesday's 6-2 victory. Jed Lowrie and fellow newcomer Chris Young hit back-to-back homers in the seventh inning for the A's, who had 11 hits and stormed back after falling behind 2-0 in the first.

"To get some run support and know the team has got your back, especially going down 2-0, it's a big deal," Tommy Milone said after throwing seven sharp innings. "It kind of lit a fire under my butt and told me that I needed to keep this game close."

Lowrie, who was acquired from Houston on Feb. 4, finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs. First baseman Nate Freiman also came up big with two hits and an RBI in his major league debut.

The A's now give the ball to A.J. Griffin, who's looking to build on last season's impressive rookie campaign. The right-hander went 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA over 15 starts after getting called up June 24.

Griffin, though, struggled down the stretch, going 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in his last four regular season outings.

"The numbers at the end weren't as good as they were in the beginning, but he's definitely somewhere between," manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website. "He's a good pitcher, and he's going to get better and better."

Griffin also got knocked around during spring training, going 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts.

"I just try to focus on what makes me good and how I'm going to help the team the most," he said. "Just more about the process in trying to get on the right track."

Griffin won both his outings against Seattle (2-1) last year while posting a 1.64 ERA and striking out 11 in as many innings. While he's limited Dustin Ackley, Franklin Gutierrez and Justin Smoak to a combined one hit in 13 at-bats, Griffin will need to be wary of Michael Morse, who's homered three times over the last two games. Gutierrez also went deep Wednesday.

The Mariners counter with 22-year-old Brandon Maurer, who's set to make his big league debut. The promising right-hander earned a spot in the rotation after going 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA over seven games - four starts - in spring training. He struck out 25 and walked seven in 24 innings.

"He had a great camp," manager Eric Wedge told the team's official website. "You're talking about a young man that has multiple plus pitches. The way it worked out, he faced a lot of big league lineups and handled it well. Different situations, he handled all of them. He showed great stuff, poise, and had some presence out there. He came in here and took it."

Smoak, who's 1 for 10 this season, is 9 for 82 (.110) over his last 22 games against the A's.

Oakland's Scott Sizemore went 1 for 4 on Wednesday, his first game since suffering a torn left ACL on the first day of spring training in 2012.

Tagged: Athletics, Mariners

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