June 16, 2015

Mike Montgomery's first taste of the majors appears to have been worth the wait.

The left-hander looks to continue a strong start to his career by helping the Seattle Mariners take this four-game home-and-home series with the visiting San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.

A 2008 first-round pick by Kansas City who was dealt to Tampa Bay in December 2012, Montgomery (1-1, 1.89 ERA) is finally getting his chance after Seattle (30-36) acquired him March 31 in exchange for right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.

"It's been fun," Montgomery, who turns 26 on July 1, told MLB's official website. "I always believed in myself and I'm really grateful for Seattle to kind of believe in me and give me the opportunity to make the most of it."

Since making his major league debut June 2 in place of the injured James Paxton, Montgomery is the first Mariners pitcher to complete at least six innings in his first three starts since Bob Stoddard did so through five in 1981.

"I believe in what I do and now it's just a matter of going out there and proving it every fifth game and trusting this team," Montgomery said after he yielded a run in six innings of Saturday's 8-1 victory at Houston.

Montgomery might not have an easy time following up Felix Hernandez, who allowed four hits in eight innings to earn his 10th victory in Wednesday's 2-0 win.

Austin Jackson delivered a run-scoring triple off Madison Bumgarner in the sixth then scored on Robinson Cano's double to help the Mariners take two of the first three versus San Francisco (35-32).

"You've got to grind out at-bats and find a way to win," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Jackson is 6 for 17 (.353) with four RBIs in his last four games and has batted .367 over his last 12 at home.

Bumgarner yielded four hits and struck out nine over eight innings, but the Giants were blanked for the third time during a 1-6 stretch. Matt Duffy had two hits for San Francisco, which has batted .185 and scored 13 runs in those seven contests.

Duffy has gone 6 for 12 versus Seattle this week.

"He's a ballplayer," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Duffy. "This kid runs well. I think he's getting better and better at third base. I just love the way he competes at the plate."

San Francisco leadoff hitter Nori Aoki is 3 for 23 in the last six games but is batting .359 against left-handers. Joe Panik is hitting .360 against them.

Ryan Vogelsong (4-5, 4.81 ERA) went 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA in five May starts but is 0-3 with a 6.61 ERA in June. The right-hander allowed four runs and a season-high five walks over 3 2-3 innings of a 4-2 loss to Arizona on Saturday.

"Sometimes the hard part is the diagnosis," said Vogelsong, who has walked nine this month after yielding the same amount in May. "It's disappointing."

Though Vogelsong hasn't faced Seattle since 2012, Seth Smith is batting .375 (6 for 16) with three doubles against him and should be back in the lineup after sitting against the left-handed Bumgarner.

Batting .278 in 48 games for San Francisco, versatile outfielder Gregor Blanco could be activated from the seven-day concussion list as early as Thursday.

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