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OAK@SEA: Vargas allows two runs, fans 10 over 6 2/3

Despite all the turmoil and all the injuries in Boston this year, the Red Sox, who have won 10 of their past 14 games, remain in the thick of the playoff hunt with the season approaching its midway point.

Surprisingly, however, a trip to Seattle has somewhat derailed that hot streak, as the last-place Mariners have taken two of the first three games between the two clubs. On Sunday, the Red Sox will try to force a split against a motivated Seattle squad looking for offense.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge held a team meeting that lasted 22 minutes before batting practice Saturday to discuss the club's woes at the plate. The Mariners have scored just eight runs through the first six games of their homestand.

"We'll see," Wedge said when asked if he thought the meeting worked. "The response is out there. We'll find out. Ask [the players]. There's just a certain way we're going to go about things here. I didn't bring my butt all the way out here to do it any other way."

After scoring three times in 11 innings on Saturday, the jury is still out on the meeting's effectiveness. Still, Wedge will gladly take more results like Saturday's, which was Seattle's second walk-off win of the series.

Boston left-hander Felix Doubront (8-4, 4.54 ERA) will be making his first career start against Seattle on Sunday. He was tagged for seven runs (five earned) on 11 hits by the Blue Jays on Monday night. "I don't know. A couple of bad pitches," Doubront said after the start. "I think it was one of those days."

He'll be opposed by fellow southpaw Jason Vargas, who allowed 11 home runs in June -- tying a club record for a single month. But Vargas was sharp his last time out, tying a career high with 10 strikeouts and allowing just three hits to Oakland.

Red Sox: McDonald designated for assignment
• In order to make room for Saturday's starter, Josh Beckett, the Red Sox were forced to designate outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment. McDonald was hitting .214 with two homers and nine RBIs in 38 games.

"Darnell is one of those guys that you just love having around," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "He helped us win some games this year with some big plays defensively and offensively. [He's] one of the guys in the clubhouse that's really well respected."

The Red Sox are carrying 13 pitchers following Beckett's return from his shoulder injury.

• Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is riding a season-high 11-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .386.

Mariners: Saunders day to day
• Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders has missed two consecutive games with flu-like symptoms, and his status for Sunday's game is unclear.

Wedge said Saturday that Saunders would have been available late in the game if the opportunity arose, but Saunders didn't play.

• On Saturday, Chone Figgins started in left field for the second consecutive game in Saunders' place. Seattle is also without Franklin Gutierrez, who was placed on the seven-day DL with a minor concussion.

"I think the headaches are better, but he's still a little off," Wedge said of Gutierrez. "There's no guarantees that the seven days is even going to be enough. Obviously we're going to be very careful with him."

Worth noting
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia's 15 homers is tops among all American League backstops.

• Ichiro Suzuki needs just one more home run to reach 100 in his career, which would make him the 12th Seattle player to reach the century mark with the club.

• Gonzalez is hitting .364 with two doubles in 11 at-bats against Vargas.

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