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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, July 29th (All times eastern)

Kansas City Royals (41-59) at Seattle Mariners (46-57), 4:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Kansas City - Will Smith (2-3, 6.26) Seattle - Felix Hernandez (9-5, 2.80)

(Sports Network) - Continuing with their lengthy 10-game homestand at Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners shoot for a rare four-game sweep this afternoon as they close out a series with the Kansas City Royals.

Winners of three straight and four of the last five outings overall, the Mariners have shown some signs of life here in the second half of the 2012 campaign. On Saturday the squad again got over on Kansas City thanks to a Mike Carp sacrifice fly out to left which plated Chone Figgins in the bottom of the eighth inning with what proved to be the game-winning run.

Jesus Montero belted a two-run home run, his 10th of the season, in the third frame to put the hosts on top until the ninth when the Royals tied the contest at 3-3. Like Montero, Casper Wells also accounted for two hits in the meeting.

Montero, who appeared in just 18 games in his first year in the majors in 2011 with the New York Yankees, has been a thorn in the side of the Royals since coming up to the big leagues. The youngster has 14 hits in 23 career at-bats and has seven consecutive multi-hit games versus KC.

"I'm just trying to be patient, to look for good pitches," said Montero, who also worked a walk on Saturday. "I know I'm in a hurry sometimes, and that's why I don't get base hits. So I'm trying to be patient and hit good pitches, and try to help the team to win."

Seattle starter Kevin Millwood notched just his fourth win of the season as he allowed one unearned run on six hits, walking one and striking out three over 6 1/3 innings. Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen gave up a late run but still tallied his 13th save of the campaign.

"Kevin threw the ball great today," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He did a great job with his fastball, used both sides of the plate, he was strong, started mixing in his breaking pitches late in the ballgame, and he's been very consistent for us."

Kansas City starter Bruce Chen pitched rather well as he gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk over six frames, striking out five along the way but it simply wasn't enough to keep the Royals out of the loss column yet again.

"We're trying to do everything we can to get out of this funk," Chen said. "But you can't panic, you just have to do it one step at a time. I know I lost today, but I felt like it was a step in the right direction."

Billy Butler raised his batting average to .306 as he posted three hits, reaching base safely in all four plate appearances. Alcides Escobar had two hits, knocked in one run and scored another but perhaps the bigger news for the Royals was Mike Moustakas who left the game early due to a knee sprain and is now being listed as day-to-day.

Trying to stretch his personal win streak to six in a row, Felix Hernandez readies to take the mound for the Mariners this afternoon.

Hernandez, who has won three straight outings overall, is among the league leaders in strikeouts with 147 through 148 total innings thus far. On Tuesday the right-hander was matched up against the New York Yankees at home and proceeded to limit the Bronx Bombers to just two earned runs on four hits and three walks. Hernandez managed just four strikeouts, giving him a total of only seven in his last two games, but his 7 1/3 innings of work was enough to earn the Mariners the 4-2 victory.

Already 1-0 against the Royals this season, thanks to an outing in which he permitted just one run on eight hits over eight innings, Hernandez has a career mark of 4-3 with a 2.69 ERA versus Kansas City.

Attempting to counter for the Royals will be rookie left-hander Will Smith. A fresh-faced Smith, who recently celebrated his 23rd birthday, actually won his last outing on Tuesday as he pitched a career-high seven innings in a 4-1 triumph against the Angels.

In that contest Smith allowed just one run on two hits, walked four and struck out four as well, snapping a personal two-game slide in the process. Even though he has appeared in a total of just five games in his brief career, one of those was against Seattle 10 days ago when he was tagged for four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. Smith walked two and fanned five as he came out on the short end of a 6-1 decision at home.

Kansas City, which has not won back-to-back games in a month and is now a disappointing 1-6 in the season series with Seattle, is 14 games out of contention in the AL Central, a deficit that is identical to that of the Mariners in the AL West at the moment.

07/29 10:22:22 ET