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Wilhelmsen gets call for Mariners in finale with Twins

(SportsNetwork.com) - Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen gets a spot start on Thursday when the Mariners play the finale of a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field.

Felix Hernandez had been slated to go for the Mariners in this one, but manager Lloyd McClendon opted to push him back to Friday when Seattle opens a series with American League West-leading Oakland.

So, it will be Wilhelmsen, who is making his first career start, as the Mariners try to avoid their third straight loss. Wilhelmsen has appeared in 33 games this season and is 1-1 with a save and a 2.49 ERA.

"We had talked about it a few days ago," said Wilhelmsen, who saved 53 games for the Mariners from 2012-13. "We knew it was going to be a bullpen start and I said I was up for it if he needed me to fill in. I'm excited to get the opportunity and say I started a Major League game."

Minnesota, meanwhile, turns to rookie Yohan Pino, who is 0-2 with a 4.98 ERA. Pino did not get a decision versus the New York Yankees on Saturday, but pitched well, giving up just a run and three hits in six innings.

"I thought his ball was jumping. I thought he was locating right from the get- go," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of his last start. "He made his pitches and you could see him really focus out there. He didn't back away from those guys at all and made some very nice pitches."

Minnesota won its second straight game on Wednesday, as Brian Dozier had two doubles and scored a pair of runs to lead the Twins to an 8-1 rout.

Kyle Gibson (8-7) scattered seven hits and walked one over six scoreless innings, while Kendrys Morales drove in three runs for Minnesota, which had been 1-5 before this brief surge.

"We got some walks, strung together some at-bats and got some big hits when we needed to," Gardenhire said.

Roenis Elias (7-8) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- on seven hits and three walks over 3 1/3 frames for the Mariners, who have dropped four of their last six tilts.

"It was a tough night for him ... just no command," McClendon said of Elias.

The Twins took two of three games from the Mariners earlier in the year.