Angels-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

Thanks in part to an outstanding stretch on the road, Josh Hamilton is finally resembling the offensive threat the Los Angeles Angels expected all season.

The star slugger looks to hit safely in a career-best 12th straight road game as the Angels try to win consecutive games for the first time in two weeks Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners (59-68) came up short in manager Eric Wedge's return to the dugout as Chris Nelson's two-run home run off Felix Hernandez proved to be the difference in the Angels' 2-0 win on Friday.

"It was huge because you know he is not going to give up a lot," said Nelson, who had gone hitless in 17 at-bats prior to his second-inning homer.

Wedge, who suffered a mild stroke before a game July 22, said he intends on managing the rest of the season without restrictions.

"It's a shot across the bow, it's a mulligan, it's a heads up,'' Wedge said. "And I'm taking it as such.''

Although he's batting a career-low .231 in the first of a five-year deal with the Angels, Hamilton went 2 for 4 with his 25th double as Los Angeles (56-71) snapped a five-game skid at Safeco Field. He's hitting .333 with three home runs and nine RBIs in his last 14 contests, raising his average 14 points.

Hamilton, whose lone hit in three at-bats against Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez (4-0, 5.94 ERA) was a home run, is batting .409 with two home runs, five doubles and 14 RBIs during his 11-game road hitting streak. He hasn't hit safely in that many consecutive road contests since an 11-game run with Texas from June 11-30, 2010.

Ramirez has gone 4-0 with a 4.80 ERA while receiving 4.6 runs per game over his last five starts - all Mariners victories. He recorded his first quality start Sunday at Texas, allowing two runs - one earned - and four hits over seven innings as Seattle eventually won 4-3.

The right-hander wasn't as sharp in his only career start against the Angels, getting tagged for five runs - three earned - and seven hits over six innings in a 5-4 loss in Anaheim on Sept. 25.

All-Star Mike Trout went 2 for 3 against Ramirez in that contest, but was 0 for 4 on Friday after missing three games due to tightness in his right hamstring. He's hitting .474 in his last 10 games against the Mariners.

Los Angeles looks to win for the fourth time in 13 games by giving the ball to left-hander Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.92), who has allowed seven runs and 15 hits in two starts after missing nearly two months following blood clot surgery in June.

The former Mariner, however, has pitched well against his old club, fanning 16 while going 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in two meetings this season.

He's held Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager hitless in a combined 14 at-bats this season. Both players are also slumping heading into this contest, with Morales batting .163 over his last 13 games and Seager hitting .134 in his last 18.

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