Mariners hope to salvage split of set with O's

( - The Seattle Mariners shoot for back-to-back wins for just the third time this month as they close out a four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field today.

Seattle, one of three teams in the American League West that is already at least 10 games out of contention, managed to snap a four-game slide yesterday with a 4-3 victory, just the third win for the club since returning from the All-Star break.

The Mariners had held Baltimore scoreless through the first seven innings on Saturday, but then had to hold on for the close call as starting pitcher Chris Young gathered his ninth win of the campaign. The hurler allowed just two hits and three walks over seven innings, striking out eight, but needed Fernando Rodney to close it down in the ninth.

The save was the 28th of the season for Rodney and the 200th of his career.

"Congratulations to my closer for his 200th save," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "That's a phenomenal accomplishment and we're extremely proud of him."

Dustin Ackley posted a pair of doubles and scored twice for the hosts, while Robinson Cano also had a double and two walks as he knocked in one and scored a run.

The Orioles, leaders of the AL East by three games over the New York Yankees, registered a total of only three hits, two of those coming from Delmon Young. A fielding error by Seattle's Kyle Seager allowed two runs to score in the eighth, with the other run being tallied by Chris Davis shortly thereafter.

Baltimore starter Bud Norris fell a game under .500 on the season as he permitted four runs on six hits and three walks. Norris did manage to fan six over five innings, but he simply didn't get any run support.

Seeking to put up back-to-back wins for the first time in more than two months, Miguel Gonzalez will be taking the ball for the Orioles this afternoon in the Pacific Northwest.

The right-hander, currently in his third season with Baltimore, took down the Angels earlier this week as he allowed just two runs on three hits through 7 2/3 innings. Gonzalez also walked four batters in that meeting, but offset those with five strikeouts, as he posted his first victory since June 17.

Gonzalez is making his first-ever appearance against the Mariners.

Despite leaving his outing against the Mets on Monday after 5 1/3 innings with a forearm cramp, Roenis Elias is still scheduled to pitch for Seattle in this meeting.

Even though the left-hander made an early exit versus New York, he managed to strike out eight, a vast improvement over his previous appearance when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings versus Minnesota, giving up six earned runs on seven hits and three walks.

Like Gonzalez, this is the first time Elias will be taking on the Baltimore lineup.

The Seattle staff currently ranks first in the American League in both team ERA and batting average against, with marks of 3.07 and .224, respectively.