Mariners-Rays Preview

If Felix Hernandez is to become the majors' first eight-game winner, he must find a way to finally record a victory at Tropicana Field.

The right-hander can do so by winning his fourth straight road start Wednesday as the Seattle Mariners try to complete their first road sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays in 15 seasons.

Hernandez (7-1, 2.19 ERA) had won five consecutive starts before giving up four runs, seven hits and four walks over six innings of a 4-2 loss to Boston on May 16. He rebounded by allowing a solo homer and three other hits in seven innings of a 4-3 win at Toronto on Friday.

''It was nice to see him bounce back from his last start,'' teammate Nelson Cruz said of Hernandez, who has a 1.74 ERA in his last three road outings.

The only other time Hernandez won four straight on the road came while winning his final five of 2007. Though he's posted a 1.57 ERA in his last three at Tampa, Hernandez is 0-2 in four starts at Tropicana Field - the only AL park where he's never won.

He pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 15 in his most recent appearance there June 8 before the Mariners did all their scoring in the ninth of a 5-0 victory.

Seattle (22-23) has won five in a row at Tampa but hasn't swept a series there since Sept. 18-20, 2000. Despite blowing a three-run lead in the ninth, the Mariners can do so after Kyle Seager's homer in the 10th led to a 7-6 victory Tuesday.

''Sometimes it's winning ugly but it's a win," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "That's all that counts."

Seager, who belted a grand slam in the eighth, set a career high with six RBIs as Seattle won for the fourth time in five contests to improve to 5-3 on a nine-game trip. He's batting .400 with five home runs and 10 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak.

Seager is 0 for 7 against Chris Archer (5-4, 2.40), who went 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA in his first two May starts but is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in the last three. He's yielded one run each while winning two straight, most recently Friday when he overcame six hits and four walks and struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 victory over Oakland.

"I left it all out there," Archer told MLB's official website.

The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA in three starts against the Mariners, but tossed 6 1-3 scoreless innings opposite Hernandez in June.

''That young man is pretty special," McClendon said of Archer after that contest. ''He battles."

Though the Rays battled back Tuesday, they matched a season high with their fourth consecutive defeat. Evan Longoria and Joey Butler each had three hits and Jake Elmore had a career-high four RBIs, but Tampa Bay stranded 10 and went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position.

''Obviously when you come back like that, you get frustrated when you put yourself in a position to win,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Recalled from the minors Monday, Elmore is 4 for 7 in the series and 11 for 22 in nine career games versus Seattle.

Butler is 6 for 12 with two doubles in the last three contests.

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