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NYY@SEA: Saunders hurls 6 1/3 of three-run ball

Joe Saunders has certainly enjoyed his time in Seattle this season. But when the veteran left-hander has left the friendly confines of Safeco Park, it's been an entirely different story.

In six road starts, Saunders is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA, and on Friday, he heads to the home ballpark of one of baseball's hottest teams -- the A's.

Friday marks the beginning of a three-game set between the two American League West rivals. The A's completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees with a 3-2, 18-inning win on Thursday. They've won seven of their past 10 games and increased their lead over the second-place Rangers in the AL West to two games following Texas' 3-1 loss to Toronto.

For Oakland, fellow southpaw Tommy Milone (6-5, 3.69 ERA) gets the ball, coming off throwing a career-high 118 pitches against the White Sox his last time out. Milone limited the South Siders to one run over seven innings on Saturday, striking out seven.

The A's bullpen may have lost the game for Milone, but the left-hander once again worked deep into a ballgame, marking the 10th time in his 13 starts that he's thrown at least six innings.

Saunders has shown no such consistency on the road, but he has managed a 4-2 mark with a 2.53 ERA in seven home starts. He's coming off a solid outing against the Yankees in which he went 6 1/3 innings on Saturday, allowing three runs.

"Joe threw the ball really well," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's starting to kind of lock it in and get into a groove. He has a much better feel for himself now in regard to what he wants to do. He's been pitching for a while, and you're seeing what we'd hoped we'd see."

Mariners: Sluggers banged up
Seattle is hopeful that first baseman Kendrys Morales and right fielder Michael Morse will be available for Friday's series opener after the pair sat out Wednesday because of injuries.

Morse is resting a strained right quad that has been lingering for a couple weeks, and Morales has missed two straight games because of lower back stiffness.

"We've got a lot of guys that are dinged up right now, and it's probably for the fact we've had to run them out there," Wedge said. "We've been thin and we've had guys that are limited, so we haven't been able to get guys days off."

A's: Crisp, Cespedes on the mend
The A's are 27-8 when Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes are both in the starting lineup, and they're just 14-19 without the pair. Both were out of the starting lineup in the final two games against the Yankees because of injuries, but Crisp made an appearance Thursday as a pinch-hitter and stayed in the game, collecting two hits.

"We always feel confident with whomever we run out there," manager Bob Melvin said. "Obviously the results would suggest that we do very well when they're both in there."

Cespedes tweaked his left hamstring in Tuesday's series-opening 6-4 victory, and Crisp is nursing a heel injury.

Worth noting
• The A's and Mariners have rotated season series victories every year since 2006. Should the trend hold up, Seattle is due to win this season, and the Mariners have taken four out of seven meetings.

• A's third baseman Josh Donaldson has seven hits -- three of them doubles -- in 14 lifetime at-bats against Saunders.

• Seattle is riding a season-high six-game streak during which it has not allowed a home run to an opponent. Comments