Hernandez, Mariners try for rare road sweep of Rays

(SportsNetwork.com) - Felix Hernandez will try to pitch Seattle to its first road sweep of Tampa Bay since 2000 on Wednesday afternoon when the Mariners conclude a three-game set with the Rays.

The American League leader in victories, Hernandez brings a 7-1 record and 2.19 earned run average into today's start.

Hernandez suffered his first setback of the season on May 16 when he allowed a season-high four runs over six frames versus Boston, but rebounded to top Toronto 4-3 on Friday. Hernandez gave up a solo homer among the four hits he allowed, but nothing else over seven innings in which he also struck out eight.

The right-hander is an impressive 5-2 lifetime versus the Rays in 13 career meetings, posting a 2.12 ERA while striking out 110 over 97 2/3 innings and giving up just four homers.

Chris Archer takes aim at a third straight winning start for the Rays this afternoon while also looking to solve some recent control problems.

Archer has yielded a single run in each of his last two starts, including Friday's 5-2 win over Oakland. He yielded six hits, including a solo homer, and struck out eight, but also walked four batters for the third time in his past five outings.

The right-hander still improved to 5-4 on the year with an excellent 2.40 ERA and tries to beat Seattle for the first time. He is 0-2 in three prior meetings while pitching to a 4.11 ERA.

Archer will try to cool off Seattle's Kyle Seager, who drove in a career-high six runs in the Mariners' 7-6 victory in 10 innings last night.

Seager hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Rays hurler Jake McGee and added a deciding solo homer in the 10th frame for his third hit in five at- bats. His heroics were needed after Seattle closer Fernando Rodney blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning.

"As hard as he throws...I was just trying to get a ball in the air," Seager said of his second career grand slam.

Seager is hitting .400 with five homers and 10 RBI over a 12-game hitting streak. That has helped the Mariners win four of five and 11 of their past 17. The are 5-3 on a nine-game road trip and now just one game under .500 at 22-23.

The Mariners can reach the even mark by posting their first road sweep in this series since Sept. 18-20, 2000. Seattle did sweep Tampa Bay at home on Aug. 7-9, 2006.

Evan Longoria hit a two-run double off Rodney in the ninth inning and Jake Elmore was credited with his fourth RBI of the game when Seattle's Robinson Cano's throw to first to complete an attempted double play was wide, tying the game.

"We've come back throughout the course of the year. It's not even surprising anymore how we bounce back," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Longoria went 3-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to 10 games, but the Rays have lost four in a row overall and five straight at home to the Mariners.