SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners were celebrating just a little when the A's had to take Scott Kazmir out of Sunday's scoreless game after six innings.
The A's were celebrating a lot after the game, not just because a 3-0 victory gave Oakland its third consecutive series win, but because Kazmir's triceps injury doesn't appear to be anything more than mildly annoying.
The left-hander said he expects to make his scheduled start next weekend in Oakland against the Houston Astros. He bases that judgment on the fact he had similar triceps pain during the spring, "and this isn't as bad as that."
Kazmir wanted to stay in the game, so much so that he and the trainers were trying to work out the tightness in his arm in the runway behind the visitor's dugout when the idea of continuing to pitch with even a little discomfort was scuttled. The A's weren't going to put Kazmir in a position where he could be out an extended period of time.
"I wanted to stay in the game, and we were trying to stretch it out," Kazmir said, "and (pitching coach) Curt Young came up and said 'why don't we shut it down?' It's very cautious, but it's a smart move."
Catcher John Jaso said he noticed Kazmir's velocity, at 94 mph earlier in the game, dropped in the sixth inning. After that inning, Kazmir, the medical staff, Young and manager Bob Melvin talked it out.
"I wasn't seeing anything funky with him except that his velo was down," Jaso said. "He was still hitting his spots with everything he was throwing. But it's wise not to push it if he was feeling something."
Melvin said he thought this was the "best game yet" for Kazmir, who signed a two-year, $22 million deal this winter as a free agent after he rediscovered his velocity and his command while pitching with the Cleveland Indians.
The manager, like the catcher, didn't see anything until Kazmir brought it up.
"The first I heard of it was after that inning," Melvin said. "Scott is always fidgety. Up till then he had a great changeup, a good cutter and a slider."
If the Mariners thought they had a chance with Kazmir out, they didn't. Fernando Abad and Dan Otero pitched a scoreless seventh, Otero working his way around a line drive dropped for an error in left field by Yoenis Cespedes.
Moments later Cespedes did what he has often done in the past and got some redemption. He unloaded on Charlie Furbush for a two-run home run in the eighth inning. It would be all Oakland would need, although Josh Donaldson added a solo homer in the ninth.
"I tried to fix what I did before," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "The bad is already past."
And Cespedes was one of those talking about just how futile hitters must feel facing Kazmir these days.
"These three games, I noticed he looks a lot like the last year when he pitched against us when I struck out three times," Cespedes said.
Luke Gregerson threw a scoreless eighth and Sean Doolittle closed it out in the ninth for his first save of the season, but most of the talk in the clubhouse was about the job that Kazmir has been doing.
"These first three starts, he's given us a good chance to win," Jaso said. "He's put us in the best possible position to be successful."
And what position is that? At 8-4, the A's are not only in first place and up by 1½ games in the A.L. West, but they have the best record in the league heading into a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels.
A's (Jesse Chavez 0-0) at L.A. Angels (Hector Santiago 0-2) 7:05 p.m. ESPN