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SEA@OAK: Vargas earns the win in complete-game effort

The Mariners and Rays didn't produce much offense in Friday's series opener. On Saturday, that could change dramatically as both team's starting pitchers have been prone to allowing runs.

The Mariners send Jason Vargas to the mound, who will be looking for his team-leading 10th win. But Vargas also has been vulnerable to the long ball, allowing 25 home runs, most in the Major Leagues. The left-hander's streak of 12 straight games with a home run allowed is a club record. All said, Mariners manager Eric Wedge isn't overly concerned with Vargas' long-ball troubles.

"It makes it much more bearable if they're solo shots, which he's done some of," Wedge said. "You just go through phases as starting pitchers sometimes, for whatever reason a particular year you give up a few more long balls than normal. But for me, it doesn't really come to mind because I just focus on the way he's pitching and giving us chances to win ballgames. It's gotten him a few times with regard to end results, but for the most part he's managed it pretty well. They're just mistakes that don't come back. Overall, I'm very pleased with him."

Vargas' counterpart, Alex Cobb, has made much larger mistakes that have been strung together to provide a frustrating stretch for the young righty. Cobb is 2-6 with a 5.59 ERA in his past eight starts and failed to get out of the fourth his last time out, walking five.

"I threw a really good bullpen this week," Cobb said. "Me and [pitching coach Jim Hickey] went over some things in the video and I saw some things I was doing wrong. Nothing too big, just little adjustments here and there.

"Release point was kind of falling towards the third-base line on my delivery, a couple minor tweaks. It's nothing too big, so I don't think it'll be too hard to stay consistent in my next game."

Mariners: Errorless defense sets club record
• The Mariners played their 12th consecutive error-free game Friday to break their previous club record of 11 games set from August 9-21, 1993.

Rays: Shields breaks hit streak
• By limiting the Mariners to just four hits on Friday night, starter James Shields was able to avoid becoming the fourth pitcher since 1990 to allow double-digit hits in five consecutive outings.

• A sixth-inning home run Friday inched B.J. Upton to within one blast of becoming the eighth player in Major League history to hit 100 home runs and steal 200 bases before turning 28. Upton has until Aug. 21 to connect on another long ball to join Rickey Henderson, Cesar Cedeno, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Eric Davis, Lloyd Moseby and Hanley Ramirez.

Worth noting
• The Rays have won all five matchups with the Mariners this season. The two teams face off twice more in Tampa Bay this weekend before facing each other for a three-game series in Seattle on Aug. 13-15.

• The Rays' Ben Zobrist has seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412) against Vargas, including three doubles. Hideki Matsui has taken Vargas deep for three of his seven hits off the Mariners lefty and has 11 RBIs with four walks in 31 plate appearances.

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