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OAK@SEA: Colon allows just three hits, K's five

SEATTLE -- Maybe this is what it takes to beat Felix Hernandez.

Face the guy not once, not twice, but three times in the first eight games of the season. The third time surely proved the charm for the A's, who squeaked out a 4-0 victory over Felix and Co. in Seattle on Friday while finding the .500 mark again.

Oakland had beaten Hernandez just two other times at Safeco Field, the last win coming April 27, 2008, the first way back in April 2006. Friday's was one to savor as the A's played the spoiler role during Seattle's home opener while at the same time providing themselves with a needed dose of momentum to jumpstart a seven-game road swing.

"It's a good start," manager Bob Melvin said. "For it to be Opening Night for them, with Felix on the mound, for us to break through ..."

"Definitely," said Seth Smith. "Any win is going to give you some momentum."

But surely the A's most recent victory was all the sweeter by night's end, upon realizing that it will be months, rather than days, before they see Hernandez again.

"We've seen plenty of him, there's no doubt about that," Melvin said, smiling.

The Mariners are probably saying the same of Bartolo Colon, who allowed just three hits over seven shutout innings for his second victory of the season. The A's righty, who has pitched at least seven innings in two of his three starts, all against the Mariners, effortlessly made his way through a lineup that went down in order five times.

Colon struck out five in the 106-pitch effort, walking just one along the way and retiring his final 10 batters with an effective mix of sliders and changeups that allowed him to rest a fastball seen plenty by Seattle in his other two starts.

"When you're facing a team three times in a row, it's tough," A's pitching coach Curt Young said. "I don't care what kind of stuff you have. Bartolo, after the first time through, you saw a definite mix of some changeups and breaking balls. It was effective for him."

Added Mariners manager Eric Wedge: "He threw really good over in Japan and he threw really good again today. He did a good job moving left to right on the plate, had a good two-seamer going and he could straighten it out away from left-handers when he wanted to. He mixed in his secondary stuff and had a really good feel for the baseball tonight."

It marked Colon's 16th career victory against the Mariners, the most wins vs. Seattle by any active pitcher. Moreover, the veteran righty has been perfect in Safeco Field since 2003, compiling an 8-0 record and 1.66 ERA during that span.

Already the A's are acquainting themselves with a pitcher who exudes as calm a demeanor as any in the game, a characteristic that Smith noted can serve a player well, or not so well. In Colon's case, it's easily the former.

"He's super loose," Smith said, "and he's super good."

"Not only does it serve him well, but it serves us well because we feel calm behind him," Melvin said. "If you have someone out there that's pacing around and nervous and fidgety and so forth, the rest of the team feels it. And he's anything but. He's pitching like he's pitching on the back field in a [Spring Training 'B'] game, and our guys feel pretty calm behind him."

So do the pitchers that follow him. Right-hander Ryan Cook, who entered the day having not allowed a baserunner in 3 1/3 innings this season, immediately allowed two via free passes in the eighth. But he just as quickly erased them, garnering a double-play ball from Chone Figgins that he fielded before getting Dustin Ackley to end the inning with a groundout.

"I was thinking double play, nothing else," Cook said.

"There are going to be key moments for him," Melvin said. "The stuff's there. With young players, there are going to be a lot of firsts to get through and overcome and build some confidence from, and I think that was one of those outings for him."

Meanwhile, Hernandez allowed two runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. And it was his third inning that enabled the A's to take a lead they never gave back.

Daric Barton led off the inning with a base hit and, one out later, Cliff Pennington easily drove him in with an RBI double. Pennington, too, scored courtesy of a single off the bat of Coco Crisp, and by the end of the frame Hernandez's pitch count read 49.

With the righty gone by the eighth inning, the A's extended their lead to three in the inning on Kurt Suzuki's sacrifice fly. Jemile Weeks capped the scoring with a solo homer in the ninth, his second of the season and fourth in 15 games dating back to last season.

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