Orioles-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

The Baltimore Orioles have a seemingly favorable schedule down the stretch as they try to catch the New York Yankees in the AL East or, at the very least, hang onto a wild-card spot.

They proved in the series opener with the Seattle Mariners they're not about to overlook anyone.

Baltimore seeks a sixth victory in its last eight games overall - and a seventh straight against Seattle - when it continues this three-game series at Safeco Field on Tuesday night.

With the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels both idle Monday, the Orioles (83-64) closed the gap to one-half game in the division and extended their lead for the AL's second wild-card spot to three with a 10-4 win over the Mariners.

Nate McLouth and Matt Wieters each homered and finished with three hits, and ex-Mariner Adam Jones went 3 for 4 with four runs scored for Baltimore.

"It's everyone picking the next guy up,'' first baseman Mark Reynolds said. "We need guys to get hot right now to stay in this race. The Yankees aren't going anywhere. Oakland is a good team. Tampa Bay is right there. The Angels are a really good team. We have to take care of our own by winning games. Whether it's Wieters or Jonesy or someone else, everyone has to step up.''

Baltimore is seeking its first playoff berth since 1997, and its remaining schedule features teams it has played well against. It has two games left with Seattle and will play six with Boston and four with Toronto before a potentially crucial season-ending, three-game series with Tampa Bay.

The Orioles are a combined 23-10 against the Mariners, Red Sox and Blue Jays, and they've won the last five meetings with the Rays.

Wei-Yin Chen takes the hill Tuesday coming off a solid outing during an otherwise rough stretch.

Chen (12-9, 4.00 ERA) allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings Thursday against Tampa Bay before the Orioles won 3-2 in 14 innings. He's 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA over his last seven starts, though.

The left-hander is 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA over his last eight road starts, not earning a decision after giving up two runs and striking out nine over 7 1-3 innings of Baltimore's 5-4 win over Seattle on July 3.

Fellow rookie Erasmo Ramirez will oppose Chen looking to build on his recent milestone.

Ramirez (1-2, 3.49) picked up his first major league victory last Tuesday, allowing two runs in seven innings of a 4-3 win at Toronto.

"Erasmo pitched a fantastic ballgame,'' manager Eric Wedge said. "He did a great job with his fastball, mixed in his changeup as the game wore on and had a good breaking ball.''

The right-hander was making his first start since June 30 and second appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Sept. 1.

"I was so happy with the last out, the 27th,'' Ramirez said. "I was waiting for that since I got here.''

It marked one of only three victories for the Mariners (70-78) in a 10-game stretch, as the offense didn't do much until the final two frames of Monday's defeat.

Eric Thames hit a solo homer in the eighth and John Jaso had a two-run shot in the ninth for Seattle, which had five of its nine hits over the last two innings.

Michael Saunders also went deep for Seattle, which has homered in eight straight.

Baltimore has won four of the last five meetings at Safeco Field.

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