Twins-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

After failing to cross the plate for 25 innings, the major league-worst Minnesota Twins produced just enough offense to extend the Seattle Mariners' woes.

Looking to post back-to-back victories for the second time this season, the visiting Twins continue a three-game set with a Mariners club hoping to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat Saturday night.

Minnesota (7-18), which entered Friday having dropped nine of 10 - including back-to-back shutout losses - appeared headed for yet another defeat Friday. The Twins were held scoreless over the first six innings before rallying in the seventh and held on to beat the Mariners 3-2.

"We just wanted to get back out there and bang the ball around," said Twins bench coach Scott Ullger of getting no-hit by the Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver two days earlier. "You just want to get back out there and play."

Seattle (11-17), meanwhile, has totaled just 14 runs and hit .137 with runners in scoring position during its seven-game slide - its longest since dropping a franchise-record 17 in a row July 6-26.

"We've gone through a lot this last week," manager Eric Wedge said. "Look at all these tight ballgames. They will be better and stronger for it and wiser for it."

While the Twins were in high spirits following Friday's result, building on their rare victory could prove difficult with Felix Hernandez (2-1, 2.23 ERA) on the hill.

Aside from allowing six runs during an 8-7 win at Oakland on April 7, Hernandez has been outstanding, compiling a 1.18 ERA over his other five starts. The 2010 AL Cy Young winner threw another gem his last time out, striking out nine over eight innings of one-run ball during Monday's 3-2, 12-inning loss at Tampa Bay.

Hernandez has gone 4-5 despite a 2.64 ERA over 12 career starts against the Twins - including a 3-2 record with a 1.83 mark over seven home outings.

Hernandez will be opposed by Jason Marquis (2-0, 6.23), who is coming off his first quality start and second win of the season. The right-hander yielded three runs and six hits over six innings of Sunday's 7-4 victory over Kansas City.

"I really focused on the bottom half of the strike zone," he told "My sinker was working so I wanted to let my defense help me. So that was the game plan and I executed it better than I did in the first two games. So I'll keep working to get better."

Marquis is 1-0 in four career starts against the Mariners while compiling a 1.71 ERA - by far his lowest mark against any opponent. He threw eight innings of three-hit ball during a 1-0 walk-off victory over Seattle on June 23 while with Washington.

Twins designated hitter Justin Morneau could return to the lineup after missing the last three games due to a sore left wrist.

Morneau is just 4 for 29 (.138) lifetime against Hernandez. Denard Span has also struggled in that matchup, going 1 for 15, though Joe Mauer is 13 for 26 with a pair of homers.

Ullger is filling in for manager Ron Gardenhire over the weekend while he attends his daughter's college graduation.

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