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OAK@SEA: Milone shuts out Mariners over seven strong

With Tommy Milone taking the mound, the A's are confident that they can get their last series before the All-Star break off to a good start.

Milone is 5-1 with a 0.99 ERA in six home starts this year and will start for the A's in their series opener against the Mariners on Friday. His two starts against the Mariners this year have both come in Seattle. Milone has gone 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA, 10 strikeouts and two walks in those two games. He tossed seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Mariners on June 25.

"Every time he takes the mound, I feel good about him pitching," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Certainly the numbers would suggest that he pitches great here. Now that's not going to happen all the time, but certainly to this point at the season, here we are at the halfway point, he's had a good game here at home every time."

The A's won have won four straight after sweeping the Red Sox and are 15-7 in their last 22 games. The A's have won all four of their games this month after going 15-12 in June, their most wins in one month in more than two years. With a win Friday, the 41-42 A's would move their record to .500.

"It is important we create some momentum going into the break," Melvin said. "Everybody's kind of making plans and knows you got four days off coming here and you can't help but think about it a little bit, but the focus is here on the games."

The Mariners, losers of seven of their last eight series after falling to the Orioles, 4-0, in Wednesday's rubber match, will send Kevin Millwood to the mound Friday. He left his last start, also against the A's, with a groin injury in the third inning.

"It's not just about becoming a good big league club and having a window, it's about becoming a good big league club and sustaining a level of championship play from year to year," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I've got thick skin, broad shoulders -- I hope the heat comes on me before anybody."

Hisashi Iwakuma made a spot start in Millwood's place, giving up three runs on three hits over five innings in a 6-3 win over the Orioles on Monday. Millwood gave up one run on one hit in 2 2/3 innings while striking out three in that short outing against the A's on June 27.

Mariners: Bullpen on a roll
For the second time in three games, Mariners relievers combined to toss four hitless innings. Steve Delabar, Brandon League, Lucas Luetge and Shawn Kelley accomplished the feat in relief of Hector Noesi in Wednesday's loss to the Orioles. Delabar, Kelley and Tom Wilhelmsen also did it in Monday's 6-3 win over the Orioles.

The Mariners, who also got four hitless innings from their bullpen in a 7-4 win over the Giants on June 16, are the only team in the Majors to pull that off multiple times this year.

Athletics: Griffin helps tie team record
A.J. Griffin gave up two runs, only one of them earned, on three hits in the A's 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday. That game marked the sixth in a row in which the A's starting pitcher gave up no more than one earned run, tying a team record. A's starters have allowed two or fewer runs in 18 of their last 20 games.

As a team, the A's have posted a 2.35 ERA and held opponents to a .191 batting average over their last 20 games. The A's boast the American League's top team ERA this season at 3.43.

Worth noting
• With a win in their series finale over the Red Sox on Wednesday, the A's improved to 74-82 (.474) all time on July 4 and 24-19 (.558) on Independence Day since moving to Oakland. The Mariners fell to 16-18 on July 4 all time with a loss to the Orioles.

• Brandon Moss homered in the second inning of Wednesday's game against the Red Sox, extending the A's streak to 15 games in a row with a home run. That's the team's longest such streak in more than a decade. The A's homered in 17 straight games from April 12-May 1, 2002.

• Ichiro Suzuki, Munenori Kawasaki and Iwakuma became the first trio of Japanese-born players to start in a Major League game when Iwakuma started on the mound Monday.

• Despite Jesus Montero, who left the game after being hit in the mask with a foul ball, and Miguel Olivo combining to go 0-for-4 Wednesday, Mariners catchers are still on pace to break the team record for highest slugging percentage from players at that position. They are currently slugging .453, with the team record set in 2007 at .429.

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