Athletics 6, Mariners 3

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OAKLAND, Calif. – Frank Thomas and Bobby Crosby hit two-run singles and the Oakland Athletics prepared for Barry Bonds’ arrival by finishing a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners with a 6-3 victory.

Kirk Saarloos allowed eight hits but just one earned run while pitching into the seventh inning for the A’s, who won their fourth straight overall with the same timely hitting and impressive pitching they displayed in Wednesday’s 7-2 win.

The first Bay Bridge Series of the season begins on Friday night, with Bonds and the San Francisco Giants visiting the Coliseum for three games. Bonds has been stuck on 713 homers since May 7 in his quest to surpass Babe Ruth’s career total.

But the A’s are headed into the series with the momentum of their second-longest winning streak of the season, which has kept them in a first-place tie with Texas in the AL West. Oakland has won six straight against Seattle after opening the season series with a loss.

Crosby’s bases-loaded single highlighted the A’s three-run first inning against Joel Pineiro (4-4), who got his second straight loss after opening May with two impressive victories. Pineiro yielded seven hits and five earned runs while walking two and hitting two batters.

Nick Swisher, who reached base for the 35th straight game with a first-inning single, had a sacrifice fly in the second. Thomas drove in two more runs in the fifth with his first hit since missing four games with a strained right quadriceps.

Saarloos (2-1) allowed a hit in every inning, but showed off the resourcefulness that got him back in the starting rotation when injuries sidelined Rich Harden and Esteban Loaiza. Saarloos won 10 games as Oakland’s fifth starter last season before getting bumped to the bullpen this spring.

The Mariners closed to 6-3 in the ninth on Ichiro Suzuki’s RBI single. Huston Street got the final out for his sixth save in seven chances.

Suzuki singled, stole a base and eventually scored in the first inning, but Saarloos mostly shut down the rest of the Mariners for the next five innings. Seattle added another unearned run when Jose Lopez drove in Yuniesky Betancourt after Crosby’s error in the seventh.

Suzuki had four hits to extend his streak to 12 games, improving to 8-for-14 in the series – but Seattle has lost five of seven overall.

Notes: Before the game, Oakland reinstated LHP Randy Keisler from the bereavement list and optioned RHP Matt Roney to Triple-A Sacramento. Keisler, who left the team last week to be with his ailing grandmother, relieved Saarloos in the seventh and escaped a jam. … Lopez’s 31 RBIs lead AL second basemen. … Saarloos made his 100th career appearance.

AP-ES-05-18-06 1753EDT

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