MLB Team Report - Oakland Athletics - INSIDE PITCH

SEATTLE -- The trade that brought right-handed pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes from Boston for slugger Yoenis Cespedes came with plenty of early fanfare but quickly got shrouded in a chorus of boos as the once-thriving A's fell on hard times.

Lester went out Sunday afternoon, when Oakland was playing its most important game to date in terms of staying in the playoff hunt, and reminded fans why the A's made the deal.

He pitched six scoreless innings on a day when Lester didn't feel like he had his best stuff -- a pretty good indication of what kind of pitcher he is.

"That's really a sign of good pitchers: They can go out there without their best stuff and get the best results," manager Bob Melvin said Sunday afternoon.

Lester led the A's to a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners to maintain the top spot in the AL wild-card standings. Oakland (83-66) leads Kansas City by 1 1/2 games and Seattle by 2 1/2.

"Anytime you can start like this and keep your team in it and give them a chance to get into the dugout with a lead, it's huge," Lester said.

Lester's quality start -- he gave up four hits over six innings while striking out seven -- helped give Oakland its first back-to-back wins since Aug. 22-23.

He earned his fifth win since being traded from Boston in a July 31 deal that has since been panned because of Oakland's fade from the top of the AL. The A's have gone 17-25 since the trade, although Lester (5-3 with a 2.01 ERA) has been solid in his nine starts with Oakland.


MLB Team Report - Oakland Athletics - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 83-66

STREAK: Won two

NEXT: Rangers (RHP Nick Tepesch, 4-10, 4.47 ERA) at Athletics (LHP Scott Kazmir, 14-8, 3.32 ERA)


--C Geovany Soto (back spasms) told The San Francisco Chronicle before Sunday's game that he was feeling a lot better, and all indications are that he'll be available for the first game of the Texas series on Tuesday.

--OF Stephen Vogt (ankle) is close to returning but probably won't be available when the A's open a series with Texas on Tuesday. Vogt could be back in action by the end of the week.

--LF Sam Fuld hit his fourth home run of the season, and his second at Seattle's Safeco Field, with a solo shot in Sunday's first inning. Fuld added an RBI double in the eighth to go 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored.

--CF Coco Crisp had hits in each of his final two at-bats Sunday, serving as evidence that he might be finding his offense again. Crisp was enduring a rough 4-for-27 road trip heading into Sunday's sixth inning, then he singled and added an eighth-inning double to go 2-for-4.