Indians-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

Felix Hernandez is not the only member of the Seattle Mariners' rotation currently pitching well.

Rookie Hisashi Iwakuma tries for a third straight winning start while looking to help the Mariners win eight in a row at home and overall for the first time in more than five years Wednesday in their series finale against the visiting Cleveland Indians, who hope to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat.

In his first start since throwing the 23rd perfect game in major league history Thursday, Hernandez gave up one run in 7 2-3 innings of Seattle's 5-1 win over Cleveland on Tuesday. The Mariners (60-64), who last won eight straight overall June 23-July 1, 2007, have won nine of 10.

Winners in seven straight and 14 of 15 at Safeco Field, Seattle has not won eight in a row at home since a nine-game run June 23-July 12, 2007.

While Hernandez is 8-0 with a 1.53 ERA in his last 13 starts, Iwakuma (4-3, 3.79 ERA) has allowed four runs and 10 hits in 14 innings while winning his last two. He gave up one run, four hits and struck out six in seven innings of a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Friday to improve to 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his last six starts.

"He's consistently been better throughout the course of this year,'' manager Eric Wedge said about the 31-year-old right-hander, who is 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA in eight starts since joining the rotation July 2. "You see more velocity, you see more on the end of his pitches.''

Iwakuma, who pitched professionally in Japan from 2000-11, allowed a solo homer, two other hits and three walks while fanning four in four relief innings of a 9-3 loss at Cleveland on May 16.

Jesus Montero hit a three-run homer and Eric Thames added a solo shot Tuesday for the Mariners. Montero's blast was only his second hit in 23 at-bats over his last six games since going 13 for 28 (.464) in his previous seven.

Thames, who has homered in each of the first two in this set, is 11 for 27 (.407) with three home runs and eight RBIs in nine games at Safeco since the Mariners acquired him from Toronto on July 21. He's 5 for 11 in his last three versus Cleveland.

Former Mariner Casey Kotchman had two hits and an RBI on Tuesday for the Indians (54-69), who have lost 17 of 18 on the road and 20 of 24 overall. Kotchman, however, is 10 for 27 (.370) while Cleveland has gone 1-7 on a nine-game West Coast trip.

Indians starting pitchers have a 7.28 ERA during the current seven-game skid.

Scheduled Cleveland starter Zach McAllister (5-4, 3.64) is 0-1 with an 11.00 ERA in two starts against the Mariners. He allowed four runs and five walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-5, 11-inning home victory over Seattle on May 17.

Staked to a 4-0 lead after 3 1/2 innings, the right-hander gave up four runs in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 6-4 loss at Oakland on Friday.

"Every pitcher wants to put a zero and get the guys back in and get some more runs and keep the momentum," McAllister told the Indians' official website. "It's frustrating when you are not able to do that."

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