Athletics-Mariners Preview

Though the Seattle Mariners still aren’t hitting the ball well,

their latest victory might be enough to help them get back on

track.

The Mariners look to build off their first home victory and take

a three-game series from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday

night.

Seattle (3-6) went 20 straight innings without a run before

Milton Bradley connected for a three-run homer in the bottom of the

eighth to help the Mariners even the set with a 3-0 win over

Oakland on Tuesday.

“We needed one thing to spark us,” said Seattle’s Doug Fister,

who allowed three hits over eight innings. “That’s what (Tuesday)

was. We just needed a little momentum, and that’s what we’ve

got.”

Filled with high expectations after acquiring high-priced talent

like Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and the volatile Bradley, the

Mariners have struggled through the first week of the season.

They’ve scored 24 runs in nine games, which has included four

losses in six contests against Oakland (6-3).

Despite the slow start, Bradley and the Mariners are confident

they can regroup and continue to make up ground.

“It’s a long season,” said Bradley, who is 3 for 26 with nine

strikeouts this season. “We were loose to begin with, and we’re

going to stay positive and keep fighting.

“If you keep working hard, talent is going to surpass bad

luck.”

All of Bradley’s hits this season have come in 18 at-bats

against Oakland, two of which are home runs.

Bradley, who’s already been dropped from fourth to sixth in the

batting order, recently met with manager Don Wakamatsu. The manager

said Bradley “opened up” to him that he was feeling pressure to

carry his new teammates as their cleanup hitter.

Figgins, meanwhile, had three hits Tuesday and is 6 for 16 in

his last four games.

After a strong outing from Fister, Seattle hopes Jason Vargas

can bounce back from his rough 2010 debut when he takes the

ball.

Vargas (0-1, 8.44 ERA) allowed five runs and 5 1-3 innings of a

6-2 loss at Texas on Friday.

Though the left-hander has not yielded a run in 4 2-3 innings of

relief against the Athletics, he’ll make his first start versus

them Wednesday.

Oakland counters with Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 3.00), who looks to

build off a strong showing in his first start of the season.

Gonzalez, who earned a spot in the rotation because of an injury

to Trevor Cahill, allowed two runs and struck out six while walking

one in a 10-4 win at Los Angeles on Friday.

The left-hander is 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA in three starts versus

the Mariners. Gonzalez hasn’t gone more than five innings in either

of his two starts at Seattle.

Daric Barton had one of the three hits Tuesday for Oakland,

which had won four in a row over the Mariners this season. Barton

is batting .346 in nine games.

The A’s hope to have second baseman Mark Ellis back after he

missed the first two games of this series with a hamstring strain.

Ellis is 7 for 16 in four games against Seattle this season.