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AP - Sports

After cruising through his first two starts, Rick Porcello was hit hard by one of baseball's most potent offenses his last time out.

Though the Seattle Mariners' overall efforts at the plate have, in contrast, left much to be desired, they've proven plenty formidable against the Detroit Tigers of late.

With Porcello looking to get back on track, the Tigers try to avoid a three-game sweep and a ninth loss in 11 home meetings with the Mariners on Thursday afternoon.

Porcello (1-1, 6.32 ERA), who allowed a combined three runs over his first two outings spanning 14 2-3 innings, was anything but sharp during Saturday's 10-4 loss to Texas. Managing to record just three outs, the right-hander was tagged for a career worst-tying nine runs - eight earned - and 10 hits before being removed in the second inning.

"It's a tough one to swallow, because I was unable to come up with an answer," said Porcello.

"I was the most disappointed one in the ballpark today. I know I can go out there and beat those guys and pitch well against them, and I wasn't able to do it today. It was a poor effort."

Porcello is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners, limiting them to a .233 average.

While Seattle (9-10) entered this series batting just .223, it's had its way with Tigers' pitching thus far - collecting 15 hits in each of its two wins. After winning 7-4 on Tuesday, the Mariners posted their highest run total of the season during Wednesday's 9-1 victory.

Felix Hernandez pitched seven strong innings for his ninth consecutive winning decision over Detroit (10-8) while Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero went a combined 6 for 11 with five RBIs. Rookie third baseman Alex Liddi also continued his hot hitting, leaving the yard for the second time in as many days.

"It feels good to hit the home runs, but winning both games makes it better," said Liddi, who's gone 7 for 16 over the last four games.

The Tigers' Brennan Boesch, meanwhile, homered for his team's only run. Since winning nine of its first 12 games, Detroit has been outscored 41-17 in dropping five of six.

"People are beating up on us - and enjoying it," manager Jim Leyland said. "Sooner or later, we'll get tired of it. None of us are doing enough good things right now."

The Tigers will look to bounce back against Hector Noesi (1-2, 9.49), who's been extremely inconsistent through his first three turns in the rotation.

After yielding seven runs over three innings of an 11-5 loss at Texas on April 9, the right-hander went on to throw eight frames of five-hit ball during a 4-0 win over Oakland five days later. Noesi, however, struggled again in Friday's 7-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, allowing six runs and six hits in 1 1-3 innings.

"I was missing my pitches, like in the first game," he told the team's official website. "I'm trying to combat that, but it was too late. Something was wrong with my mechanics. I think I was open a little bit (with his front shoulder). It is frustrating, but not every time are you going to do good."

Seattle is seeking its first three-game road sweep of an AL team since visiting Detroit last April 26-28. The Mariners have outscored the Tigers 60-29 in taking eight of 10 at Comerica Park.

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