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BOS@SEA: Felix strikes out 13 in five-hit shutout

For Mariners manager Eric Wedge, the upcoming All-Star Game will take a backseat to Sunday's first-half finale against the Oakland Athletics.

Wedge's All-Star ace Felix Hernandez will take the mound for the Mariners, and unlike last year when Hernandez was not eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game because he pitched the Sunday before it, Hernandez will be allowed to play this year with his team's permission.

The Mariners have given Hernandez that blessing, but it doesn't mean Wedge will be limiting Hernandez's pitch count because of it.

"We're going to try to win the ballgame, so whatever that dictates for me," Wedge said. "Then the All-Star Game will have to work off of that. Our priority here is to win. So we'll see how he feels and how easy he's getting it, and hopefully he has a good day for us."

Hernandez will be looking to bring some optimism to the Mariners' side heading into the break after Saturday's 7-1 win against the A's snapped a three-game Seattle losing streak. The loss dropped the A's below .500 after they reached the mark for the first time since May 22 following a 4-1 Friday win. Taking Sunday's game would put the A's back at the .500 mark, which A's players aren't taking for granted.

"It's big for us just from a confidence standpoint, but I think our goal is to get past that," A's second baseman Jemile Weeks said. "This is a definitely a good mark to hit right now."

The A's have a good candidate in Sunday's starter Bartolo Colon to bring the team back to the .500 mark. The veteran right-hander held the Red Sox to two runs in six innings on Tuesday in his first game back from the disabled list, and has a 2.89 ERA in five starts since June 1.

Colon will be tasked with getting the rotation back on track before the break after Jarrod Parker allowed six runs (five earned) in 4 2/3 innings in Saturday's loss. Previously, A's starters had allowed one earned run or less in seven straight starts.

And with the .500 mark within reach as Oakland heads into the second half of the season, A's manager Bob Melvin said he isn't surprised by how the first half has shaped up.

"There are a lot of games out there that we potentially could have won," Melvin said. "It's easy to say we should've done this, we should've done that, those games we should've won, but that's kind of unfair, because other teams are losing tough games, too."

Mariners: Bats coming alive with two outs
• Ichiro Suzuki was moved to the No. 2 spot in the batting order in Saturday's game for the first time in his illustrious 12-year career to help jump-start both Ichiro and Dustin Ackley, who was moved to leadoff, and Wedge said he will continue that lineup again on Sunday.

Ackley went 0-for-5 on Saturday, while Ichiro went 2-for-5 with a run scored.

• Catcher Jesus Montero remains day to day with a concussion sustained when he took a foul ball to his mask in Wednesday's game. Wedge said Montero won't be behind the plate on Sunday even if he is cleared to play, though he said he would consider using him as a designated hitter.

Athletics: Cowgill nearing return
• Athletics outfielder Collin Cowgill participated in his most extensive baseball activities on Saturday since he has been sidelined with a sprained ankle, and his workout before Sunday's game could determine when he begins a Minor League rehab assignment. Cowgill is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday, though he won't actually return until the start of the second half at the earliest.

Worth noting
• Hernandez is 13-5 with a 2.70 ERA and three complete games against the A's in his career.

• Josh Reddick's solo home run in Saturday's game extended Oakland's streak to 17 straight games with a home run, with 22 long balls coming in that span.

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