OAKLAND, Calif. -- The early extra batting practice finally paid off for Bobby Crosby. Nick Swisher? He nearly forgot his post-homer dugout dance it had been so long since he went deep.
Both have been struggling of late and both found their rhythm, at least for one day, to help the Oakland Athletics pick up some ground on their closest rival in the AL West.
Swisher and Crosby homered in the sixth inning to lift the A's to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the series opener Thursday night.
"This is a four-game series with a team ahead of us in the standings," A's manager Bob Geren said. "This was a big one to get. Big hits like that, with well-struck balls are confidence boosters. That's something that can get somebody going."
Chad Gaudin (8-3), who was having his own problems for part of June, made sure the home runs stood up to give the A's their fourth win in six games and move them within 3½ games of second-place Seattle.
"This is the last series before the all-star break and you want to end the first half on a good note," said Gaudin, who allowed two runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. "These guys are in our division and it's nice to gain some ground on them."
Gaudin walked four and struck out three. Geren said he wanted to give him the opportunity to finish the eighth but after giving up two hits, it was time for a change. Santiago Casilla got the final out of the inning and Alan Embree pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Ichiro Suzuki lined into a double play to end the game, following Jose Lopez's one-out single. Marco Scutaro, playing for the injured Eric Chavez, snared the hard shot above his head.
Miguel Batista (8-7) had another solid outing, giving up three runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
"They weren't bad pitches at all," Batista said of the two home runs. "I didn't miss my location but I didn't stick to my game plan. I hit my spots but I was supposed to go with something different. Both of them were fastballs but I wanted to throw a different kind of fastball. Sometimes its just location."
Swisher, who was hitting .140 over his last 14 games, hit his first home run since the departure of Milton Bradley, and had to perform the homer dance solo in the dugout.
"It's been so long I almost forgot," Swisher said. "I was just happy circling the bases. The thing is I've been feeling good and not getting the results I've wanted."
Swisher homered for the second time since hitting one in three straight games May 25-27. It's been even longer for Crosby, who hit his first in nearly a month and hadn't driven in a run in his previous 14 games.
"I finally got to contribute to the offense," Crosby said. "I've been coming in early trying to figure out stuff and hopefully this puts me in the right direction. This was a good sign."
Jose Guillen had three hits and drove in a run against his former team as the Mariners dropped to 1-3 under new manager John McLaren, who took over from Mike Hargrove on Monday.
Batista lost for the first time in Oakland, a span of eight appearances.
"It was a well pitched game both ways," McLaren said. "Miguel did an excellent job for us. We just couldn't get anything going tonight. The last ball Ichiro hit I thought was down the left field line for sure."
Shannon Stewart extended his hitting streak to 11 games with two hits for the A's, who beat Seattle for the second time in six meetings.
Guillen put the Mariners ahead 1-0 when he singled home Jose Vidro in the first inning.
Jack Cust tied it with a run-scoring single in the third.
Guillen singled to open the fourth inning and eventually scored on Adrian Beltre's single.
Swisher opened the sixth with his 11th homer. Batista got the next two outs but Crosby drove a 0-1 pitch into the seats -- his sixth homer -- to give the A's the lead.
Suzuki became the 10th player since 1900 to hit safely in at least 53 games during a 56-game stretch. Derek Jeter hit in 54 of 56 during a stretch that began last year and ended on May 3. ... Guillen has eight RBIs in his last seven games. ... Oakland has hit an AL-best 35 home runs in the last 25 games. ... A's RHP Kiko Calero is expected to be activated from the DL on Friday. ... Mariners' RHP Chris Reitsma will be activated on Friday. ... Gaudin improved to 3-0 in five starts against the AL West.