Texas (5-8) at Seattle (6-8)

Fair Currently: Seattle, WA
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Tue Apr 18, 2006
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Felix Hernandez looks to help the Seattle Mariners break out of their slump Tuesday when they host a Texas Rangers team playing its best baseball of the young season.

Seattle (6-8) lost three of four meetings with Boston, including a tough 7-6 defeat on Monday, to end its seven-game road trip with a 3-4 mark. Texas (5-8), meanwhile, took two of three from Oakland this past weekend and has won three of its last four contests after picking up just two victories in its first nine games.

Hernandez (0-1, 5.59 ERA) had a strong first start this season, allowing two hits and one run over five innings, but lost 5-0 to the Athletics. The 20-year-old right-hander didn’t receive a decision in his last outing, but gave up five runs, seven hits and four walks in Seattle’s 9-5 win at Cleveland last Thursday.

“He was all over the place, missing with his sinker and having no command of his fastball,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “It was one of those games for Felix.”

Hernandez, who debuted in the major leagues last season and went 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA while limiting opponents to a .203 batting average, has made two of his 14 career starts against Texas. He is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA, but has struck out 11 over 12 innings in those contests.

The Mariners looked like they were on their way to finishing the road trip with a winning record on Monday, but Boston’s Mark Loretta hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning off Mariners closer Eddie Guardado.

“I fell behind 2-0 and had to get a strike there,” Guardado said. “The ball was not where I wanted it, no doubt. I just blew it. I blew it. We played big today.”

Texas played big in the ninth inning on Sunday, as Mark Teixeira hit a tying two-run home run and Brad Wilkerson hit a go-ahead double to lead the Rangers over the Athletics 5-3.

“We feel like we’re playing better than our record shows,” said Texas catcher Rod Barajas, who added an RBI single in the last inning. “To score all those runs in the ninth was great because when you have opportunities to win close games you can’t squander them.”

Texas will send John Koronka (1-1, 4.91 ERA) to the mound in the opener of this three-game series. The 25-year-old left-hander earned his second major league victory by allowing two runs and six hits over six innings in an 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels last Wednesday.

Koronka, acquired along with left-hander John Rheinecker in a three-team deal with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland on March 31, is in Texas’ rotation while Adam Eaton recovers from surgery on his right finger.

Texas won 13 of the 19 meetings with Seattle last season, including six of nine at Safeco Field.

The Mariners won three of their first four home games this season before getting outscored 14-4 in losing three straight in Seattle prior to their trip.

The series continues on Wednesday with Texas right-hander Kevin Millwood scheduled to face 43-year-old Mariners left-hander Jamie Moyer.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Koronka LAD vs. F. Hernández Sea
7-7 Record 12-14
5.69 ERA 4.52
61 K 176
47 BB 60
1.54 WHIP 1.34