Rangers try to stay ahead of Felix, sweep Mariners

The Texas Rangers try to beat Felix Hernandez for the fourth time this season on Wednesday when they attempt to complete a three- game sweep of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Hernandez sits second in the American league with a 2.63 ERA this season. However, the Rangers have given him fits this season, as the former American League Cy Young Award winner is 0-3 in four starts against them with a 5.55 ERA. In fact, Hernandez is 4-10 with a 4.26 ERA in his last 15 starts against the Rangers,

"They battle a lot and they have a good approach against me," said Hernandez, who is also among the top three in the majors in strikeouts (192) and innings pitched (184 2/3).

Hernandez lost his second consecutive start on Friday to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he allowed two runs and three hits in six innings to drop him to 12-7 on the year.

He had given up five runs in five innings in his previous start to the Rangers. Hernandez lost to lefty Martin Perez in that contest and will face him again on Wednesday.

Perez won his fourth straight start on Friday in Chicago, as he held the White Sox to a four runs and eight hits in seven innings to improve to 7-3 to go along with a 3.62 ERA.

"I just want to do the same things," Perez said. "I don't want to say, 'Tomorrow, it's Felix.' I just want to be focused. I don't want to go too fast. I want to control the game, don't let the game control me. Attack the strike zone early, that is what I have been doing the last few games. We'll see what happens tomorrow, but I feel good."

Texas needed extra innings to take Tuesday's contest, as a controversial balk call allowed Ian Kinsler to score with two outs in the top of 10th inning to lift the Rangers a 4-3 win.

Kinsler and Adrian Beltre singled with one out. Kinsler swiped third, and it looked like Texas might come up empty after A.J. Pierzynski popped out in foul territory.

However, while Danny Farquhar (0-2) was staring down ensuing batter Alex Rios, home plate umpire CB Bucknor said the right-handed hurler flinched and called him for a balk, which allowed Kinsler to score the go-ahead run.

When the replay was shown, Farquhar didn't appear to move.

"Tough luck, but first of all we can't allow that guy to reach third base," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "It was a balk."

Regardless, the Rangers moved in front, and Joe Nathan was able to strand runners on first and second in the home half to notch his 38th save.

"CB saw something, he called it. He was on his game tonight," said a smiling Texas manager Ron Washington.

The Rangers, who remained 2 1/2 games in front of Oakland in the AL West, have now won 11 of their last 13 road games, while the Mariners lost for the fifth straight time at home.

Texas is 11-7 against the Mariners this season.