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HOU@SEA: Harang two-hits Astros, strikes out 10

Yoenis Cespedes' two home runs in Friday's 6-3 Oakland win marked an encouraging sign for an A's team that has gotten by without a reliable impact bat.

Cespedes, recently limited to designated hitter duties because of left hamstring soreness, made his first start in left field since June 11 on Friday and responded with the third two-home run game of his career, all of which came this month.

Cespedes went just 4-for-28 with 10 strikeouts during his week-long stint at DH, bringing his season average down to .228, but the A's hope his response in the Seattle series opener carries over into Saturday's matchup.

The Mariners will turn to Aaron Harang, who has a 3-7 record and 5.28 ERA, but is tied for the Major League lead with two shutouts.

Harang pitched for the A's in 2002 and parts of 2003 after they drafted him, and Saturday will be just his second career appearance against his old club.

Opposite the 34-year-old Harang will be Dan Straily, who hasn't lost in his last six starts, a stretch that has seen the righty go 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA and a .209 opponents' average. However, in his last start, a no-decision in Texas, he allowed six runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in 4 2/3 innings.

"It was just command issues, but Straily has been doing so well lately that I wouldn't worry or try to overdo it between now and his last start," catcher John Jaso said after the game. "You're going to have days like that. It happens, allow it to be past him and just keep doing what he's been doing."

In his only prior start against Seattle this year, on May 10, he allowed six earned runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts in just five innings. Overall, he's 0-1 with an 8.86 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners.

A's: Jaso remains questionable after late scratch
John Jaso was a late scratch from the A's lineup Friday because of a left palm abrasion.

With Jaso out, Derek Norris started at catcher, two days after taking a foul ball to his groin area.

Jaso took part in batting practice Friday afternoon, but his left hand was bandaged, and he said he suffered the minor injury while sliding into second base in Thursday's game in Texas. He was unsure afterward if he would be ready for Saturday's game.

"We'll see how fast my body heals," he said.

Mariners: Wedge plans to maintain closer by committee
Mariners skipper Eric Wedge said Seattle will continue with a committee approach while the closer situation sorts itself out. Seattle has asked different relievers to save games while former closer Tom Wilhelmsen works through his recent struggles.

The normally dependable Wilhelmsen has allowed a baserunner in his past nine appearances and has a 12.60 ERA in 11 games since May 29. He allowed one of Cespedes' two-run homers Friday, after entering in the ninth with Seattle down a run.

"There can't be any clarity right now, because there's no clear-cut closer and we've got a couple guys struggling, trying to find it," Wedge said. "So you mix and match as best you can. That's what happens when you lose your closer, you pull everybody else out of their roles."

Worth noting
• Oakland now trails the season series to the Mariners, 5-6.

• The Mariners have eight blown saves since May 20, after only two blown saves in the first 44 games of the season. Comments