White Sox-Mariners Preview

AP - Sports

If the Chicago White Sox are to end their current slide, they likely must find a way to get the best of the Seattle Mariners' next budding star pitcher.

Hisashi Iwakuma looks for a fifth consecutive victory while helping the Mariners try to send the visiting White Sox to their first nine-game losing streak in almost 22 years Wednesday.

Chicago (24-32) showed some life early against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez and again late in Tuesday's 7-4 defeat. However, the White Sox are batting .197 while being outscored 44-15 in the last eight games.

They haven't dropped nine in a row since Aug. 19-28, 1991. They're also in danger of losing 10 straight on the road for the first time since an 11-game slide Aug. 14-Sept. 1, 2007. That road drought also included the last time Chicago was swept at Seattle (26-33).

Things likely won't get any easier for the White Sox against Iwakuma (6-1, 2.13 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA in seven starts since he lost at Houston on April 23.

He allowed seven hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win at Minnesota on Friday.

"With what he's done in the past, I think we're coming to expect this from him,'' Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "Whether that's fair or not, it's just a tribute to how good and how nasty he is.''

Dating to last season, the second-year right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his last seven home starts.

"He knows how to dig deep when he needs to and he understands the game, and great heartbeat, like we've talked about so much,'' manager Eric Wedge said. "He's able to slow the game down when he needs to slow it down and when he gets on a roll he gets in that nice tempo, which we've seen a lot of that this year.''

In his only start against Chicago on April 7, Iwakuma allowed three runs on homers by Alex Rios and Adam Dunn, plus two other hits in eight innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss.

Seattle's Raul Ibanez, who turned 41 on Sunday, has two home runs and six RBIs in this series. He's hit a two-run shot in each game and added a two-run double Tuesday.

Kyle Seager is batting .313 in his last eight contests for the Mariners, who have won six of 10 since a season-high eight-game skid.

Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.04) gave up one run and three hits over 5 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-3 home win over Seattle on April 6.

In his last outing Friday, the right-hander suffered one rough inning when he allowed two runs in the eighth of a 3-0 loss at Oakland. He yielded two of his four hits in that frame and struck out a season-high seven without a walk.

"Baseball's funny,'' said Axelrod, who has a 3.86 ERA while winning three of his last four starts.

Dunn connected for Chicago's first homer in eight games, and has hit safely in five straight games to modestly raise his average from .153 to .166.

He's 2 for 5 with two home runs against Iwakuma.

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