Braves-Mariners Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

Felix Hernandez's lack of run support finally resulted in his first loss since June his last time out, though he still managed to set a major league record with another outstanding performance.

A matchup with the sinking and offensively challenged Atlanta Braves should afford him a good chance to get back to his winning ways.

The Mariners, slumping at home, open a two-game series against a Braves team that's dropped six in a row - all on the road - Tuesday night at Safeco Field.

Hernandez (11-3, 2.01 ERA) continued his spectacular consistency Wednesday, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs but losing 2-0 at Cleveland. The defeat was his first in eight starts since a 1-0 loss to Texas on June 13, and marked the ninth time in 10 starts that he received three or fewer runs of support.

The right-hander, however, surpassed Tom Seaver with his record 14th consecutive start of at least seven innings and two or fewer runs allowed. The AL ERA leader has gone 7-2 with a 1.44 ERA in that span.

"It's an honor. It means a lot to me," Hernandez told MLB's official website. "I'm just happy to do that. I've just got to continue to be consistent and keep doing what I'm doing."

Seattle (57-54) will look to its ace to get it on track at home, where it's dropped five of six. The Mariners have been the definition of inconsistency of late, as they completed a six-game road trip Sunday with a 1-0 defeat to Baltimore and have alternated wins and losses in the past eight contests overall.

Seattle has scored 21 runs in the four victories and three in the defeats. The Mariners are 26-31 at home, confounding manager Lloyd McClendon.

"Everything has been backward for us. We've played bad at home, we've played well on the road," said McClendon, whose team is opening a nine-game homestand. "... I don't know. I don't get it. I'm just rolling with it.

"I think it's going to even out. I think we will play well at home. ... I think our pitching has been as healthy as it's been all year, and that's going to give us an opportunity to win more games at home. So we'll see."

The Braves (58-54) certainly hope things are about to even out for them, as their skid has dropped them two games behind St. Louis for the second wild card and further back in the NL East race. Atlanta fell 4-3 in 10 innings at San Diego on Sunday, marking the first time in five games it scored more than two runs.

"We've just got to turn this thing around," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We can't just keep saying, 'We'll get them tomorrow.' It has to be tomorrow, meaning Tuesday. We just have to relax and regroup. We're not out of this thing."

Alex Wood (7-8, 3.30) will try to give his team another solid start after throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a 3-2, 10-inning road defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. The left-hander has faced the Mariners once and took the loss after allowing two runs in two innings of relief in a 7-5 defeat June 3.

The Braves swept that two-game home set, ending a five-game skid in the series.

Hernandez has started against Atlanta once and didn't fare well, giving up five runs and 10 hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss June 29, 2011. Freeman was 3 for 4 off him.

Mariners outfielder Chris Denorfia is 3 for 3 against Wood.