After finally halting their longest losing skid of the season, the Seattle Mariners look to resume their pursuit of first place in the AL West when they continue their four-game series with the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.
The Mariners (55-46) won 7-1 on Friday, snapping a season-high seven-game losing streak and improving to just 6-10 since the All-Star break.
“That was a very important win for us,” said Jose Guillen, who hit his 13th homer of the season. “Guys were starting to panic, saying, ‘Let’s go! We have to get a win.’”
The Mariners were one game back of the division lead on July 20, and despite their losing skid, they’re only four games behind the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels.
Beltre is 6-for-12 with five doubles and eight RBIs in his last three games, and is batting .359 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games since July 4.
He has had a remarkable turnaround against the Athletics this season, as he was just 1-for-14 (.071) in his first four games against them, but is 14-for-28 with three home runs, four doubles and 12 RBIs in his last seven in the season series.
Seattle has won eight of 11 over Oakland.
The Mariners should be pleased to have Horacio Ramirez (5-3, 6.75 ERA) take the mound at Safeco Field on Saturday after he had another disastrous road outing.
Ramirez gave up a season-high eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-7 loss to Texas at Monday, falling to 0-3 with a 13.72 ERA in five road starts this season.
While Ramirez has had no success on the road this season, he has won all five of his starts at Safeco, posting a 2.27 ERA in those games.
“We have talked about this, and I don’t know what to say,” manager John McLaren told the team’s official Web site. “He is comfortable at home, and I don’t know if it’s the big park, cold air or the Seattle coffee he has each morning. Something makes him click at home.”
The left-hander has not faced the A’s since 2005, and is 1-0 in two starts against them, giving up nine runs in 10 2-3 innings in those games.
Oakland (49-54) has lost 13 of its last 18, and is 11 games out of first place in the AL West.
Nick Swisher hit his third homer in his last two games on Friday after going just 5-for-33 (.152) with two doubles and one RBI in his first 12 games after the All-Star break.
Eric Chavez snapped an 0-for-10 slump with an eighth-inning single in his first start since Sunday after being out due to back problems. He’s 5-for-6 with a home run and two doubles against Ramirez.
Chad Gaudin (8-5, 3.66) tries to shake off a couple of rough starts when he takes the hill Saturday.
Gaudin is 0-2 with a 9.88 ERA and 17 walks in 13 2-3 innings in his last three starts. The right-hander gave up five runs, six hits and six walks in a season-low 3 2-3 innings of a 12-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
In his only start against Seattle this season, Gaudin gave up two runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-2 victory on July 5. He improved to 2-0 with a 4.85 ERA in 10 games - three starts - lifetime against the Mariners.