Mariners-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

Four days in Minnesota could be what the Seattle Mariners need to get another winning streak going.

Following a gem from their ace, the Mariners hope rookie starter Hisashi Iwakuma can continue his recent success and help them defeat the Twins for a seventh straight time Tuesday night.

Seattle (62-67) led in all three contests over the weekend in Chicago, but lost each one after concluding a nine-game homestand with eight consecutive victories.

The Mariners bounced back in Monday's series opener at Minnesota when Felix Hernandez tossed a five-hitter for his 23rd career complete game in a 1-0 victory. Eric Thames' eighth-inning homer was one of the three hits Seattle could muster against Liam Hendricks, but it provided the winning margin.

"It was a good feeling, especially to know that it gave Felix a lead,'' Thames said. "It's awesome.''

Since losing their first meeting this season with the Twins (52-76), the Mariners have outscored Minnesota 26-8 while winning the next six between the clubs.

Thames' homer was only his second hit in his last 10 at-bats overall, but he's batting .348 (8 for 23) with two home runs and seven RBIs in eight games versus Minnesota in 2012.

Iwakuma (4-3, 3.64 ERA) is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven starts, and has allowed one earned run in 12 2-3 innings over his last two. That stretch includes a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Aug. 17, when he yielded an unearned run, four hits and struck out six in seven innings.

The right-hander gave up one earned run in 5 2-3 innings Wednesday while not factoring in the decision of a 3-1 win over Cleveland.

The 31-year-old Iwakuma, who played professionally in Japan from 2000-2011, is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in nine starts since joining the Seattle rotation July 2.

"His experience has really shown up, as far as I'm concerned, over here," manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners' official website. "He's technically a rookie, but he doesn't pitch like that because of all the time he spent starting in Japan."

Minnesota counters with Scott Diamond (10-5, 3.04), who makes his first start since he earned a six-game suspension for throwing near the head of Texas' Josh Hamilton during Thursday's 10-6 loss. Diamond, who is appealing the suspension, was ejected immediately following the pitch. The left-hander allowed two runs, three hits and two walks in 2 1-3 innings. He insisted it was not intentional even though Twins star Joe Mauer was beaned by Roy Oswalt in the top of the third.

"I was trying to work in on the pitch and it definitely got away from me," Diamond told the Twins' official website. "My control wasn't as great. I'm just glad nobody got hurt."

Minnesota's most consistent starter, Diamond is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in his last six outings. He gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 3-2 loss at Seattle on Aug. 18.

Mauer had one of the five hits Monday for Minnesota, which has lost 15 of 18. He is 4 for 25 (.160) in his last seven games, and 5 for 28 (.179) versus Seattle this season.

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