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08/20/08 7:28 PM ET

Mariners eager for home cooking

Seattle (46-80) vs. Oakland (57-69), Thursday, 7:10 p.m. PT

The Mariners head home after a tough eight-game road trip full of playoff-bound teams and face off against the Athletics, who have fallen to third place in the American League West after spending most of the season in contention.

While the season has been a disappointment for the Mariners after some initial high expectations, manager Jim Riggleman said he doesn't need to be reminding his team to play hard with a month still to go.

"If they have to be reminded of that, they need to be weeded out of the herd. Guys are fighting for their jobs and their careers and others are trying to establish themselves in the big leagues," he said. "There is a reason for everybody every day to go out there and perform and the No. 1 reason is you sign a contract that says you are going to do that. That would be just totally unacceptable."

If the Mariners hope to turn that effort into victories in September, they need to bring some more runners home from scoring position, which has been an issue this season.

On Monday against the White Sox, the Mariners had 15 hits, but scored only five runs. Chicago, meanwhile, scored 13 runs on 11 hits. In that game, the Mariners left 13 men on base and stranded eight runners in scoring position with two outs. The White Sox left just five on base overall and only two in the latter category.

"[We] told the hitters in a meeting, '[You're] doing a good job getting on base, but it seems like the pressure is on you with runners on base,'" Riggleman said. "That's not the case. The pressure is on the pitcher. We need to take advantage of the situations when runners are in scoring positing and realize that the pressure is on the pitcher."

Pitching matchup
SEA: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-1, 4.11 ERA)
The left-hander from Australia got off to a rocky start against the Twins, surrendering five runs in the first two innings of his last start. But he regrouped magnificently and made it through the fifth inning leading by a run. Rowland-Smith turned his start around by throwing more first-pitch strikes and getting better command of his fastball. He didn't overpower anyone, striking out one batter, but kept the ball on the lower edge of the strike zone more consistently. Rowland-Smith has faced the Athletics three times in his career, holding them to one earned run in four innings.

OAK: LHP Greg Smith (5-12, 3.91 ERA)
A rookie acquired in the Dan Haren trade with Arizona over the winter, Smith has been more impressive than his win-loss record indicates. He's struggled with his command at times, costing him a game here and there, but he's also been victimized more than any pitcher on the A's staff by Oakland's anemic offense. In 24 starts, he's received two runs or fewer of support 17 times, including his last time out, when he took a 2-1 loss to the White Sox.

Raul Ibanez entered Wednesday ranked second in the American League in batting average in the month of August at .437. ... The Mariners will have logged 45,253 miles in the air this season when they return home from the just-completed road trip. ... The Mariners have won just one of their last 12 series (nine losses, two ties). ... Ichiro Suzuki is 46-for-121 (.380) this season with two homers when leading off the game.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KOMO 1000

Up next
• Friday: Mariners (Ryan Feierabend, 0-1, 18.00) vs. Athletics (Gio Gonzalez, 1-2, 7.53), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 5-13, 4.95) vs. Athletics (Kirk Saarloos, 1-0, 1.59), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 7-8, 3.23) vs. Athletics (Sean Gallagher, 4-6, 5.23), 1:10 p.m. PT

Jesse Baumgartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.