Pirates aim to extend win streak at Seattle

The Pittsburgh Pirates try to extend their season-high winning streak to six games on Wednesday when they close out a brief two-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Pittsburgh continued to roll in Tuesday's opener, as Starling Marte belted two of the Pirates' five home runs in a 9-4 win. Brandon Inge had a three-run home run. Russell Martin and Gaby Sanchez each hit solo shots for Pittsburgh, which has won seven of nine and is one game back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central lead.

"The power jumped up, and it was nice to see," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "I felt confident it would come on this trip."

Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke (7-1) was solid through seven innings. The lefty gave up two runs on four hits and walked two batters.

"Not a lot of rhythm and rhyme early," Hurdle expounded. "He just went out and basically battled."

Justin Smoak had a two-run homer while Kyle Seager hit a solo shot for the Mariners.

Starter Joe Saunders (5-8) lasted just 1 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since Aug. 7, 2009, as a member of the Angels. He surrendered six runs, including three home runs.

Pittsburgh will have its work cut out for it on Wednesday, as it goes up against former AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, who is 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA. Hernandez, though, was rocked by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Thursday to the tune of seven runs (6 earned) and 12 hits in five innings. He did not get a decision in the 10-8 loss, however.

"I'm not thinking about it," said Hernandez. "I'll just go out there and do what I know I can do."

Hernandez has beaten the Pirates both times he has faced them and has only allowed one run in 16 innings of work against them.

The Pirates, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jeanmar Gomez, who has been on the disabled list the past three weeks with forearm tightness. He had been 2-0 with a 3.07 ERA before the injury.

Seattle split two games with the Pirates in early May at PNC Park.