The Texas Rangers will try for a road sweep of the Seattle Mariners on Sunday afternoon as the two squads are set to battle at Safeco Field in the finale of a three-game series.
The Rangers set the tone early on Saturday afternoon with a three-run second inning and cruised from there to the 5-2 triumph.
Jurickson Profar had his first-career multi-hit game and both knocked in and scored a run in the second inning. David Murphy was 2-for-5 with three RBI, and Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland all chipped in two hits apiece as well for the Rangers, who have won five of seven and continue to play the frontrunner in the AL West.
Derek Holland (4-2) was sparkling in the victory, allowing only two unearned runs over 6 2/3 innings of work while striking out a season-high 10.
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save and his second in as many nights.
For the second straight outing, Felix Hernandez (5-4) was far from his usual stellar self. He allowed 11 hits and five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, although he did manage to strike out nine batters paired with just one walk.
"He's at his best when he can get you to chase some pitches and then lock you up with the fastball. Tonight, when he threw some balls across the plate, we were fortunate enough to put them in play," Texas manager Ron Washington said of getting to Hernandez.
The Mariners' only runs of the night came in the bottom of the third inning on a two-run double off the bat of Kendrys Morales. The squad has now lost eight games in a row and was held to two runs or less for the fourth time in the past six outings.
The Rangers will send rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch to the hill on Sunday. Despite a lackluster 3-4 record, the 24-year old has held his own this season, sporting a 3.98 ERA over eight starts.
Tepesch was the hard-luck loser in his latest outing after allowing just two earned runs in five innings versus the Tigers on May 17. The start before that Tepesch was outstanding, yielding one earned run over six innings in a May 12 win over Houston while striking out a career-high eight batters.
For Seattle, Hisashi Iwakuma will attempt to continue his sensational start to the season. The Japanese right-hander has been one of the American League's top hurlers in the early going with a 5-1 record, a 2.37 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings.
"He's so consistent with his delivery, his arm action, his arm slot, release point, it's tough to see what is coming out," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
"(Iwakuma) has been flying under the radar a little bit but he's been just as impressive (as Hernandez)," third baseman Kyle Seager said. "It's been pretty fun to play behind those two especially."
After winning three straight starts to begin May, Iwakuma hit a bump in the road his last time out, giving up five earned runs over six innings of work in a no-decision against Cleveland on May 20.
Iwakuma shut down the Rangers on April 12, earning the win after yielding just three hits and one earned run in 6 2/3 innings.
After splitting a four-game series in mid-April, the Rangers have defeated the Mariners five straight times.