Rangers-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

Continued success on the road and against the Seattle Mariners has the Texas Rangers feeling confident.

The Rangers look to record a fifth straight road victory by handing the reeling Mariners a ninth consecutive defeat Sunday.

David Murphy had three RBIs and two of Texas' 13 hits, and Derek Holland threw 6 2-3 strong innings in Saturday's 5-2 win at Seattle. Winners in 15 of 21 overall, the Rangers (32-17) have batted .299 and hit 19 home runs while winning eight of nine away from home.

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They own a 37-10 scoring advantage during their five-game winning streak over the Mariners.

"It's great to get a series win, but we hope to get the sweep (Sunday)," Murphy said.

"(On Saturday) things were definitely clicking a little bit. They've definitely been clicking a little bit more the last week or two and hopefully that trend continues."

Seattle (20-29), meanwhile, has been outscored 60-23 while in the midst of its worst skid since it dropped 17 straight July 6-26, 2011.

''This is where you've got to be tough. You've got to stay determined, stay persistent, keep coming to the ballpark and knocking on that wall,'' manager Eric Wedge said.

The Rangers scored all their runs and recorded 11 hits against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez on Saturday.

Though Murphy is batting .229 on the season, he is 8 for 21 (.381) with 11 RBIs in the last six games.

"I've had some success over the last week or two but I still can't quite say I felt like myself," he said.

Murphy is 5 for 12 (.417) with two doubles and a home run against scheduled Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.37 ERA).

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.73 ERA against the Rangers, with both wins coming in his last two starts. He gave up a home run and two other hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 victory over Texas on April 12.

Iwakuma allowed five earned runs in a four-start span before Monday, when he gave up a season-high five in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 10-8 loss at Cleveland.

Four of those runs came on two homers in the second inning.

The Rangers counter with Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.98), who returns to the mound after he was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday because of a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand.

"It's getting there," Tepesch told the Rangers' official website Friday. "I didn't feel it in the bullpen at all. It's getting close to where it needs to be."

The rookie right-hander has allowed three runs in 11 innings while splitting his last two starts after giving up 11 over 10 2-3 frames to drop the previous two. He yielded two in five innings of a 2-1 win over Detroit on May 17.

Tepesch went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA when he made back-to-back starts versus Seattle in April. In his most recent April 20, he left in the second inning after being hit by a line drive above the right wrist.

Kendrys Morales delivered a two-run double Saturday for the Mariners, who managed five hits off four Texas pitchers. The veteran slugger has been one of the team's few bright spots, batting .342 with 14 RBIs in his last 20 games.

Teammate Michael Saunders is 3 for 34 in his last nine to drop his average from .278 to .221.

Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak is likely to sit out after he suffered an oblique strain checking his swing during an at-bat early in Saturday's game. He will be re-evaluated before the series finale.

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