King Felix, Mariners open set with Rays

( - In his last start, Seattle hurler Felix Hernandez did something he hadn't done in over five years.

The last time he faced Tampa Bay, Hernandez joined very elite company.

The right-hander will look to break out of his slump on Monday night when the Mariners begin a three-game series versus the struggling Rays.

Hernandez has gone winless in five consecutive outings since opening the season 3-0. He is 0-1 with a 3.16 earned run average over his slump and picked up his third straight no-decision on Wednesday versus Oakland.

The 28-year-old allowed four runs -- three earned -- on a season-high 11 hits over 6 1/3 innings, but the Mariners did win for the first time on his winless stretch by rallying for a 6-4 victory.

Adding to Hernandez's current struggles on Wednesday was the fact that he did not log a strikeout in a game for the first time since Aug. 19, 2008.

"It doesn't bother me, but I'm shocked," Hernandez told his club's website. "No strikeouts. Not a good breaking ball, not a good changeup -- that's what happens when you don't have good stuff."

Hernandez, now with a 2.73 ERA on the season, had great stuff the last time he faced the Rays. In that Aug. 15, 2012 meeting in Seattle, Hernandez threw a perfect game, logging 12 strikeouts in the historic performance.

In 11 career games versus the Rays, Hernandez is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA.

The Mariners split a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals over the weekend, losing Sunday's finale 9-7 for just their third setback in 10 games.

Kyle Seager hit a home run and Dustin Ackley went deep twice among his three hits to stay hot at the plate. Ackley is batting .355 over his past 11 games with three homers and six RBI.

"I think I've been seeing the ball pretty well, putting good swings on balls and not missing things," noted Ackley. "I think in the past, it's just been a little off with some foul balls and things and now I'm not missing the balls I'm supposed to hit."

The Rays, meanwhile, have lost five of their last six and dropped Sunday's rubber match of a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians by a 6-5 margin.

Chris Archer struggled in five-plus innings, yielding four runs on eight hits and four walks. Matt Joyce homered and had two hits, while Ben Zobrist scored twice.

"We're not playing the caliber of baseball right now that is a winning caliber of baseball," Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria said.

Cesar Ramos gets the start tonight for the Rays and he did not post a decision in his last outing on Wednesday versus Baltimore. He yielded two runs -- both on solo homers -- over 5 2/3 innings in a game his club lost 4-3.

Ramos, a 29-year-old lefty, is 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 10 games this season, including five starts. He has never before started against the Mariners, but has faced them five times in relief. Over that time, he has allowed seven runs in 7 1/3 innings for an 8.59 ERA.

These two clubs split six meetings last year, with Seattle winning two of three at home.