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As fall behind early, keep sliding with loss
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SEATTLE (AP) — It’s been a stretch of struggles for Oakland, and no one on the Athletics struggled more Sunday than Brandon Moss.

The right fielder struck out four times in a 6-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners, Oakland’s sixth defeat in seven games. At a time when everything seems to be going wrong for the A’s, Moss had the toughest day of them all.

“I can’t feel much worse,” Moss said. “Four strikeouts on 14 pitches. You can’t do much worse. I guess I could have done it on 12.”

Defending AL West champion Oakland on Friday dropped below .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season. The A’s start a series Monday at division-leading Texas.

“You go through ups and downs, but this is not very fun now,” Moss said.

He wasn’t the only one who had a rough day.

Tommy Milone (3-5) lost for the fifth straight start, giving up five runs, six hits and three walks in five innings. This was the first time during the skid he failed to pitch into the seventh inning, and he has a 3.62 ERA over that span.

Kendrys Morales hit his fourth home run of the season in the first off Milone, a drive into the Oakland bullpen in left field that followed Michael Saunders’ leadoff single and Kyle Seager’s one-out walk.

“I was throwing too many balls, getting behind in the count — and then having to come back and pretty much threw the ball over the plate,” Milone said. “They were waiting for it, pretty much.”

Milone walked two in the first — more than he had allowed in all but one of his seven previous starts this season.

“I was maybe trying to be a little too fine in the first inning,” he said. “Just tried to paint the black and that’s probably what caused me to get behind.”

Seattle stretched its lead on Jesus Montero’s run-scoring single in the fourth and Seager’s sacrifice fly in the fifth. Jason Bay added his fourth home run in the seventh inning, a drive to center off Jerry Blevins. Seattle has won three of its last four games.

Oakland, meanwhile, did little against Joe Saunders (3-4), who allowed one run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings with six strikeouts and three walks.

Saunders is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four home starts this year, improving to 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 13 career appearances at Safeco Field. He is 0-4 with a 12.54 ERA on the road this season.

Moss was the only left-handed batter in the lineup against the lefty Saunders.

“That is the most overmatched I’ve ever been in baseball right there,” Moss said. “It wasn’t overmatched by stuff, it was just the location of the pitches.”

The Athletics’ best chance came in the second inning. Josh Donaldson and Luke Montz led off with doubles, and the A’s later had runners at the corners with no outs when Nate Freiman grounded to shortstop Brendan Ryan, who threw out Montz at the plate. Saunders retired the next two batters.

“It’s tough to come from behind, especially when it’s happening quite a bit,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “As far as spiraling out of control, I don’t think that is something we would even think about.”

NOTES: Melvin said OF Coco Crisp, on the DL with a strained left hamstring, may run the bases Monday. If it goes well, a Wednesday return for Crisp is “not out of the question,” Melvin said.