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SEA@LAA: Ramirez fans six, holds Angels to two runs

Promising young right-handers Sonny Gray and Erasmo Ramirez square off for the second time in a week on Saturday when the A's meet the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Gray, 24, has won four straight regular-season decisions dating back to September, including a 6-3 victory over Ramirez on Sunday in Oakland.

Gray (1-0, 0.75 ERA) has allowed just one earned run over his first two starts this season and is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts against the Mariners over the past two seasons.

Gray struggled out of the gate with his command last Sunday, but he made the necessary adjustments to get through six innings, with three total runs allowed. The youngster said the early innings had been "giving me fits" so far in the young season, but they haven't shaken him.

"He's a battler," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "For a young guy, that's something you don't see often. It's easy to kind of throw in the towel and say it's not your day."

Ramirez, 23, did not fare as well Sunday after a strong showing in his debut in Anaheim, as he allowed seven hits and five runs in four-plus innings while lacking his normal command.

"I was fighting trying to throw strikes," Ramirez said. "My strength is putting the ball in play, just throwing the ball in the strike zone and making the hitter swing the bat. But I didn't feel it. I didn't feel like the strike-thrower I am."

The poor outing put Ramirez's record at 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts. He is 7-7 with a 4.36 ERA in 32 Major League outings (23 starts) and 0-3 with a 5.23 ERA in five appearances against the A's.

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon expects Ramirez to bounce back. The youngster had a strong spring before holding the Angels to six hits and two runs over seven innings in his season debut.

"I think what we have to understand, particularly with young starters, they're so hyped up with that first start, letting everything hang out, then he came back on regular rest and it was probably a bit much," McClendon said. "He wasn't as sharp. I would suspect he'll be better this next time out."

Mariners: Still waiting on first Cano blast
New second baseman Robinson Cano has yet to hit a home run for the Mariners in 18 Cactus League games and his first nine regular-season outings. But that does not seem to concern McClendon or Cano, who has said from the start that he is not a home run hitter -- he's a line-drive hitter.

Cano has averaged 28 homers a year over the past five seasons, but he hit just one home run in Spring Training last year and only had one spring with more than two homers in the Grapefruit League (he hit four in '09) during his time with the Yankees.

As for the regular season, Cano hit his first and second blasts last year in his seventh game en route to a 27-homer season. In 2012, he did not hit his first until his 12th game, then went on to hit 33, a career high.

"I'm not the least bit concerned about Robbie's first home run," McClendon said. "Check the book. They'll be there. When it's all said and done, his numbers will be right where they're supposed to be. That's a question we probably need to address so I don't have to have this question anymore. Robinson Cano is one of the top arguably five hitters in all of baseball. He has been for the last nine years, and that's not going to change just because he put on a Seattle Mariners uniform.

"What I'd like to see Robbie do is lead the league in doubles," McClendon added. "I don't worry about home runs. His home runs will be there. I know we're all waiting on it, and I'm sure he is, too, but that's not a concern."

A's: Crisp to return; Gentry expected back, too
Coco Crisp will be back in the A's starting lineup on Saturday. The center fielder received a cortisone shot in his inflamed left wrist Sunday, forcing him to miss the next three games, but he took batting practice and pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Friday night's series opener, striking out for the game's final out.

Outfielder Craig Gentry is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list Saturday after missing the first two weeks of the season with his new team while continuing to rehab a lower back strain he sustained on the second day of camp.

Upon Gentry's return, the A's will most likely designate Sam Fuld for assignment, despite his strong start to the season. They could opt to designated Daric Barton, but Fuld remains the stronger possibility because he and Gentry are of the same skill set.

Worth noting
• Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak had nine RBIs in his first eight games this season. Last year he didn't get his ninth RBI until returning from a disabled-list stint on June 18, in his 47th game of the year and the team's 72nd game. Smoak finished 2013 with 50 RBIs over 131 games.

• With a base hit off Felix Hernandez in his second at-bat Friday, shortstop Jed Lowrie has reached base safely in each of his past nine games.

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