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SEA@OAK: Seager's single scores two in the third

OAKLAND -- Jason Vargas put up his second straight strong outing for the Mariners, and this time his offense helped out, as Seattle topped the A's 7-3 on Friday's "Re-Opening Night" for two teams that faced off a week earlier in Tokyo.

Vargas gave up just two runs -- on a massive 462-foot home run by new A's center fielder Yoenis Cespedes -- in a five-hit outing over 5 1/3 innings to pick up his first victory in five starts at Oakland Coliseum.

The 29-year-old southpaw had held the A's to one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings in Seattle's previous regular-season game on March 29 in the Tokyo Dome. But the bullpen couldn't hold on in that one, and he wound up with a no-decision in a 4-1 loss.

But after totaling just 12 hits and four runs in 20 innings in that two-game split in Japan, the Mariners jumped on the A's for 13 hits and seven runs on Friday and improved to 2-1 against their American League West rivals.

"It was awesome, especially that inning where we really [needed] to score and had the bases loaded," said Vargas, who has had the lowest run support in the AL of any starter since the start of 2009. "Those are times you really have to take advantage, and we did -- and that's a good sign."

Chone Figgins and Dustin Ackley ignited the offense from the top of the order. Figgins went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Ackley went 3-for-5 with one run.

"I've done it for years. It's just bringing it back this year," Figgins said of his return to the leadoff role. "The best part about it for me is how many times I can touch home plate. If I can touch home plate a couple times a night, that's going to give us an opportunity to win ballgames."

The Mariners crossed the plate four times in the third against Brandon McCarthy, equaling their scoring total from the entire Tokyo trip, with Kyle Seager's two-run single the big blow.

"Those two-out hits with runners in scoring position are separators, and that's something I hope we can be much more consistent with this year," said manager Eric Wedge.

Three of the runs were unearned, after Brendan Ryan doubled leading off the inning, then scored when Figgins laid down a sacrifice bunt and was hit in the back by an errant throw by A's third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The Mariners loaded the bases on a single by Ackley and a walk to Ichiro Suzuki, setting up Jesus Montero's first RBI as a Mariner on a sacrifice fly. Seager's single to right then made it 4-0.

Michael Saunders doubled to lead off the fourth and scored on a single up the middle by Figgins for a 5-0 lead. The Mariners' center fielder said the offense owed Vargas and Felix Hernandez after such little production last week.

"Those guys pitched unbelievably well in Tokyo," Saunders said. "Coming back here, we wanted to give them some run support. It started with Vargas tonight, and he did his job and we did ours. We're looking to carry that over to Felix tomorrow."

Saunders and Ryan were catalysts from the eighth and ninth spots in the order, as well, each with two runs, two hits and a double.

"Their lineup is a bit similar to ours," said A's skipper Bob Melvin. "They have to get production up and down the lineup, and we didn't make some good pitches at the bottom of the order. You have to bear down 1-9, and we just missed too many pitches in the middle of the plate -- and they capitalized."

McCarthy, who breezed through seven innings on one run with 82 pitches in the opener, needed 95 pitches to get through five on Friday and left trailing, 5-2. Seattle then put up two more on reliever Jordan Norberto in the sixth, as Figgins pushed one across with a safety squeeze and Ichiro followed with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

Vargas kept the A's off balance and off the scoreboard until Cespedes, the Cuban defector, torched a 2-1 pitch off the suites high above the center-field fence in the fourth inning for his second home run in three games against the Mariners.

Vargas nearly cost himself in the sixth, when he threw a potential double-play grounder into center field. But Steve Delabar came on with two on and one out and blew a 95-mph fastball past Cespedes and got Kurt Suzuki on a groundout. Delabar wound up going 1 2/3 perfect innings, turning the game over to setup man Tom Wilhelmsen.

Wilhelmsen yielded one run in the eighth and had two runners on, but struck out Cespedes and Suzuki to escape that jam before Brandon League closed things out in the ninth.

"Vargy is out there pitching his tail off," said Delabar. "To come in and shut the door for him is a great feeling. This was a good team win. Everybody had a hand in it." Comments