Seattle (35-29) at Houston (28-39)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Jun 16, 2007
  • TV: KSTW, KNWS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a winning surge helped the Mariners move near the top of the AL West, Seattle has suddenly begun to stumble.

The Mariners look to avoid losing their fourth straight game when they continue their three-game series against the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Seattle (35-29) won nine of 10 games from June 2-12 to close within three games of the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.

However, after a season-high five-game winning streak, the Mariners have dropped three straight to fall into third place in the division, five games back.

They lost to the Astros 5-1 on Friday, and have scored just seven runs during their skid after averaging 6.2 runs in their previous 10 games.

Left fielder Raul Ibanez is just 1-for-11 during the losing streak after batting .356 (16-for-45) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last 10.

“Hopefully, we can salvage one of these next two games, make it a great road trip and go home and enjoy our off day,” Willie Bloomquist told the team’s official Web site. “Our offense the last couple of days has been a little bit sluggish.”

Cha Seung Baek (3-2, 5.22 ERA) looks to help the Mariners snap out of their losing funk when he takes the hill on Saturday.

Seattle has gone 8-2 with Baek on the mound this season, but the South Korean right-hander has hardly dominated.

Baek allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-7 win over Cleveland on Monday - a makeup game from the first week of the season - but did not factor in the decision. He has given up five or more runs in four of his starts, and has posted a 6.75 ERA in his last three outings.

Baek has made 21 career starts for the Mariners, and this will be his first career start against a NL opponent.

Houston (28-39) has won just two of its last six games, and is a major league-worst 8-20 since May 17.

Mike Lamb had four hits, including a home run and a double, and drove in three runs on Friday. Lamb went 3-for-5 with two RBIs on Thursday, raising his batting average 41 points to .289 in his last two games.

Woody Williams (2-9, 5.51) looks to avoid losing three straight starts for the second time this season when he takes the ball on Saturday.

Williams is coming off his best start of the season, but it wasn’t enough in the disappointing season he’s enduring. The right-hander allowed two runs and a season-low four hits in seven innings on Monday, but lost to the Chicago Cubs 2-1.

“I really don’t feel that I have pitched that poorly and here I am 2-9,” the 40-year-old Williams said. “I can’t keep looking at the record. I know it has to change sometime.”

Williams, who signed as a free agent with Houston in the offseason, has lost four of his last five starts, and dropped a season-high three straight starts April 24-May 4.

He has struggled in interleague play lately, going 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA in four starts against the AL since the start of the 2005 season.

Williams last faced the Mariners in 2005 while pitching for San Diego, and is 3-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 16 games - 12 starts - lifetime against them.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Baek SD vs. W. Williams Hou
4-3 Record 8-15
5.15 ERA 5.27
49 K 101
14 BB 53
1.38 WHIP 1.43

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jun 16