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Ramirez holds A's to two runs in six innings

OAKLAND -- All good road trips must come to an end.

Although the Mariners lost the back end of Wednesday's doubleheader with the A's, 2-0, they'll still touch down in Seattle after their long cross-country road swing as one of the hottest teams in baseball.

Including the club's 6-4 extra-inning win earlier in the day, Seattle went 7-2 while going through the Bronx, Houston and Oakland. Despite missing out on a chance to leapfrog the A's (20-15) for first place in the American League West, there's no doubting that the Mariners (17-16) are coming back to Safeco Field in much better shape than they were in when they left.

"To come out of this series 7-2, it's just an unbelievable trip," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It was just phenomenal. I was very proud of the team how they played. We put ourselves in a pretty good position."

The team has come a long way since the eight-game losing streak it suffered in the second half of April. While some might have been quick to write off Seattle's season a bit early, McClendon said he never lost faith.

"The only ones that wavered were you guys," McClendon said to the reporter pool. "Sky was falling in so might as well pack our bags and go home. But our guys have a great attitude and they continue to believe in each other. They turned it around and I told them that they would."

Both the A's and Mariners went to spot starters for Wednesday's second game, and Oakland southpaw Drew Pomeranz outdueled Seattle righty Erasmo Ramirez.

After posting a 1-3 record and a 6.75 ERA in five starts with the Mariners to begin the year, Ramirez was demoted to the Minor Leagues. Even though he turned a strong start, the 25-year-old Nicaraguan was sent back down to Triple-A Tacoma after the game as Seattle went back to a 25-man roster.

"Right now, you just continue working on what I'm doing and attacking the strike zone," Ramirez said.

For the first time all series, Oakland got on the scoreboard before Seattle.

The Mariners' defense didn't give Ramirez much help in the third. Craig Gentry hit a sharp ball to shortstop Brad Miller, and he couldn't handle it, allowing Gentry to reach on a single that was originally ruled an error. Gentry scored from first after Jed Lowrie skied a ball to left field that landed between three Mariners for an RBI single.

Ramirez surrendered a solo shot to A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes in the next inning, but gave McClendon a solid start. He finished six innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four.

"They took advantage of some pitches," Ramirez said. "Like the pitch to Cespedes, I was checking out. It was down in the zone, but he's got pop and he showed that today. What can I say? He got good contact and he got the homer. ... That's what good hitters do."

Meanwhile, Seattle couldn't get much going against Pomeranz, who usually occupies the long-relief role. In his first start of the year, Pomeranz turned in five sharp innings, allowing two hits while walking none and striking out five.

"I tried to keep my same approach out there, really," Pomeranz said. "Just come into the game and attack hitters. I was trying to stay ahead of guys and was throwing my curveball for strikes, locating my fastball pretty well, and I threw some good changeups."

Even though the Mariners entered Wednesday with a 9-3 record against southpaw starters, they had no answer for Pomeranz.

The team totaled just three singles and a hit batter, as Dan Otero tossed three scoreless innings of relief before reinstated A's closer Jim Johnson picked up his second save of the year. It stood in stark contrast to Wednesday's early game, when Seattle used eight hits, three of the extra-base variety, to earn the victory.

"It's baseball," McClendon said. "You're not going to hit every night. That's just the way it is."

A bitter end to the sweet road trip, sure, but in the grand scheme of things the Mariners are feeling good about where they're at.

"I think it's one of those things where we had a great road trip," catcher Mike Zunino said. "You can't hang your hat one loss, but I mean, 7-2, I think we've played great baseball."

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