Rangers-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

Derek Holland hasn't been at his best lately.

A start against the struggling Seattle Mariners could be exactly what he needs to get back on track.

Holland will try to extend his 19 2-3-inning scoreless streak visiting the Mariners on Saturday night when the AL West-leading Texas Rangers go for their fifth consecutive victory in this divisional matchup.

After posting a 0.60 ERA while winning his first two starts in May, Holland (3-2, 3.30 ERA) has surrendered four runs and eight hits in each of his last two. The left-hander went a season-low 4 2-3 innings in Sunday's 11-8 win over Detroit, allowing as many homers (two) as he had in his first eight starts.

Holland, though, hasn't given up any runs in Seattle since his first game there July 10, 2009. Since that relief appearance, and another one two days later that lasted 2 2-3 innings, he has logged 16 2-3 scoreless innings in two starts at Safeco Field. Holland pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings in a 3-2 victory at Seattle on July 13.

He'll face a Mariners team that's dropped a season-high seven straight following Friday's 9-5 defeat.

A three-run homer by Lance Berkman and a two-run shot by Jeff Baker helped Texas (31-17) win for the seventh time in eight games outside Arlington.

The Mariners (20-28), who had won eight of 11 at home, were back in town after getting outscored 35-9 in the final four games of a 2-7 trip that ended with Wednesday's 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Seattle's last eight-game slide was a franchise-worst 17-game skid July 6-26, 2011.

A start by Felix Hernandez (5-3, 2.07) on Saturday would seem to be exactly what the Mariners need to avoid that, but even their ace has run into some problems.

The former Cy Young winner permitted a season-high six runs in a season-low five innings in Sunday's 6-0 loss at Cleveland. Hernandez had not allowed more than one earned run in any of his previous six outings.

"You're going to have games like that when a couple of things happen and you make a couple of mistakes,'' manager Eric Wedge said.

Hernandez, who made his last four starts outside Seattle, is 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA in three outings at Safeco Field this season. The worst of those starts came against Texas on April 11, when he was tagged for four runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings.

Texas' A.J. Pierzynski, who hit a solo homer off Hernandez in that game, is tied with Adrian Beltre with a team-best eight hits as the Rangers have won six of eight from Seattle this season.

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, 3 for 5 with two doubles Friday, has twice as many hits (14 for 31) off Rangers pitching this season as any of his teammates. He's 4 for 11 with a homer against Holland.

Kendrys Morales, who has two doubles in 10 at-bats versus Holland, is 9 for 17 over the last four games.

Mariners infielder Carlos Triunfel could make his first start of the season Saturday after flying out as a pinch-hitter Friday. He was called up earlier in the day along with catcher Jesus Sucre, who went 1 for 4 in his major league debut.

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