OAKLAND -- The A's have yet to find the answer for their offensive inconsistency, and overanalyzing things is not on their list of solutions.

Just ask veteran A's infielder Todd Walker, who fell back on an old baseball axiom after the Seattle Mariners finished off a 4-2 win Thursday afternoon at McAfee Coliseum and left town with a two-game sweep of the home team.

"I've been watching our at-bats, I feel like we have a good approach," Walker said. "It all comes back to good pitching beats good hitting any day of the week."

The Mariners hardly had boasted such pitching prior to the series, but you wouldn't have known it after they held the A's scoreless for 17 of the 18 innings the teams played.

After getting a complete-game effort from Jarrod Washburn in Wednesday's 2-0 win, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove burned through his bullpen Thursday, using six pitchers to keep the A's off the scoreboard over the final six innings.

Jose Lopez's two-run home run off A's reliever Kiko Calero in the sixth inning was the difference, putting Seattle ahead 3-2.

After Seattle tacked on a run in the seventh, the A's had a chance to rally in the eighth. They put runners on first and second with no outs. After a fielder's choice put men on the corners with one out, Hargrove called early for closer J.J. Putz. Putz got Marco Scutaro swinging for the second out. Jason Kendall then stung one toward left field but right at Raul Ibanez to end the threat.


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The A's have scored just two runs in the past 21 innings.

"We've seen some pretty good pitches," A's manager Bob Geren said. "They threw the ball in some pretty good spots and made some plays defensively. We're trying not to look too in depth at it, staying positive."

The positive is that the A's starting pitching is keeping them in every game.

Joe Kennedy was solid if not spectacular in his five innings. He allowed seven hits but just one run, and managed to keep alive a couple of impressive streaks for the rotation.

The left-hander wiggled out of a first-inning jam, extending the A's major-league record to 22 games to start the season without allowing a first-inning run. That streak was in jeopardy as the Mariners put runners on first and second with one out, but left fielder Shannon Stewart made a diving catch to rob Ibanez, and Kennedy got Richie Sexson to fly out to right.

It was also the 20th straight game an A's starter has allowed three or fewer runs, which surpassed the Oakland record of 19 games that bridged the 1974 and 1975 seasons (the A's previously had broken the single-season mark).

"I think it's a good sign for us because our pitching is going to be there," Walker said. "The one that's always a roller-coaster ride is hitting. If we're not doing it now, (they will) later."

The A's jumped out front 2-0 in the third off Seattle starter Miguel Batista. Mark Ellis lined a double into the left-field corner to score Stewart, and Eric Chavez followed with an RBI ground-rule double to right.

Seattle cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth when Jose Vidro drove a run-scoring double to deep center field. Danny Putnam backpedaled to the warning track and looked like he had a bead on the ball, but it hit his glove and popped out just before he hit the wall.

Putnam, called up from Double-A on Monday, was playing his third straight game in center field in place of Nick Swisher, on the shelf with a strained left hamstring.

Geren said a hopeful target date for Swisher's return is Tuesday, when the A's open an eight-game road trip in Boston.

Contact Joe Stiglich at jstiglich@cctimes.com.