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Twins-Mariners Preview

AP - Sports

There are few sure things in life.

One of them so far is Hisashi Iwakuma always defeats the Minnesota Twins.

The Seattle Mariners starter has never allowed an earned run in winning four all four starts against the Twins heading into Monday night's opener of a four-game set at Safeco Field.

Iwakuma (6-4, 3.33 ERA) has allowed two unearned runs over 26 2-3 innings against the Twins, including 16 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings. Minnesota (39-48) is hitting .168 with 24 strikeouts against him - matching its combined total of hits and walks.

The Twins' best hope may be any shoddy defense by the Mariners, who have committed an AL-low 41 errors. Seattle has four errors in Iwakuma's starts against Minnesota in addition to a passed ball that led to one unearned run.

Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe is 1 for 8 against Iwakuma and Josh Willingham is hitless in eight at-bats.

The Seattle right-hander bounced back after giving up five runs in consecutive outings by yielding one over six innings in Tuesday's 13-2 rout at Houston.

The Twins are hoping Kevin Correia (4-10, 4.95) can avoid tying San Diego's Eric Stults for the most losses in the majors. Correia has posted a 2.40 ERA with a 2-3 mark over his last five starts after his ERA was at 6.11 through his first 12 outings.

The veteran right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA in four starts against the Mariners, and his lone career meeting with Iwakuma was a mismatch. Correia was rocked for six runs over 1 2-3 innings in an 8-2 loss last July 25, as Iwakuma struck out nine in six innings.

The Mariners (48-40) are searching for offense after totaling four runs and batting .193 with 32 strikeouts in losing two of three on the road to the Chicago White Sox. Kyle Seager, who leads the club with 59 RBIs, went 1 for 13 without driving in a run in the series.

''We didn't swing the bats extremely well,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''Balls we did hit hard they made great plays on. That's the way it goes. That's baseball.''

Minnesota has lost 10 of its last 13. Twins starters own a 7.43 ERA in that span and their 5.01 overall mark is the worst in the AL.

''It's the starting pitching," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's not about anything other than that."

One bright spot in Sunday's 9-7 loss to the New York Yankees was Plouffe, who went 3 for 4 with a homer to break out of a 5-for-33 slump. Willingham's slide continued - he went 0 for 3 to fall to 6 for 52 (.115) over his last 16 games.

Brian Dozier went 5 for 12 with two homers and five RBIs as the Twins took two of three at home from the Mariners from May 16-18.

Seattle's Michael Saunders went 6 for 11 with four RBIs and three runs scored in that series. Saunders has hit safely in his last eight games against the Twins, and his .308 average against them is his best against any AL opponent.

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