"Our offense, we've not been as good as we certainly have for the better part of the [first] half," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Coco [Crisp] is out, [Josh] Reddick is out, [Alberto] Callaspo is out now… so it's been a fight to score some runs."
On Friday, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez held the A's to two runs over eight innings before closer Fernando Rodney held on to send Seattle to a 3-2 win after a drama-filled ninth.
On Saturday, there was less drama, and it was right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma who kept Oakland off-balance, as the A's fell to 58-36 with their second straight loss.
"It's always like they're one pitch ahead of you," Brandon Moss said of Seattle's 1-2 pitching duo.
Iwakuma (8-4) began by striking out the side in the first inning, and he never let up on his way to 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball, his bid for a shutout spoiled by Moss' two-out, two-run homer in the ninth, his 20th blast of the season.
Afterward, in a quiet visitors' clubhouse, Moss praised Iwakuma.
"He's always good. He throws a lot of strikes, and then a lot of 'look like strikes,'" Moss said. "He's got a really good split, he changes speeds, he can go up, he can go down. He's tough."
Oakland starter Jesse Chavez (7-6) battled through 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out six on his way to the loss. He didn't record a 1-2-3 inning, but the big blow came in the top of the fifth when Kyle Seager belted a two-run homer deep into the right-field seats to stake Seattle to a 3-0 advantage.
"It was a flat cutter," Chavez said after allowing his 10th homer of the season. "That's my nemesis. When the cutter's flat, it's usually when I'm not getting out front. That was a problem today."
A's reliever Jim Johnson gave up a three-run homer to Robinson Cano in the eighth inning, putting Oakland in a 6-0 hole.
Meanwhile, the A's didn't create many chances, but they had one when Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie hit back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the second inning. Iwakuma then fanned Derek Norris and Eric Sogard to end the frame.
They had another when Yoenis Cespedes reached on a Brad Miller throwing error to begin the fourth. But Moss flied out to right field, then Donaldson grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Corey Hart hit a one-out double before Dustin Ackley followed with a single back up the middle. After Chavez walked Miller, he fanned Jesus Sucre before issuing another walk to right fielder Endy Chavez, loading the bases.
Jesse Chavez then got James Jones to ground out to end the inning.
"It was just one of those days where I fought myself mechanically," the A's righty said.
Stephen Vogt finished 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, a span which he's hit .452 (19-for-42) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs. Meanwhile, Lowrie went 1-for-3 to push his hitting streak to eight games. Oakland finished with five hits.
The A's will try to avoid the three-game sweep Sunday at Safeco Field in their final game before the All-Star break.