Hochevar seeks another gem against Mariners

Luke Hochevar tries to follow up his best start of the game set with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Hochevar was magnificent in winning his second straight start on Saturday against Cleveland, as he gave up just three hits and an unearned run in eight innings. He also struck out eight batters and tossed a career-high 117 pitches to even his record at 10-10 to go along with a 4.76 earned run average.

"I really did feel good tonight," said Hochevar. "I felt like all my pitches were working good, and I felt like my command was on as well. That's my focus, whether my pitches are on or not; it's executing pitches."

If his last start wasn't his best of the season, his one against Seattle on April may have been, as he allowed just a run and one hit in seven innings of that one. For his career, he is 2-0 against the M's with a 2.84 ERA in three starts.

Jason Vargas, meanwhile, will try to put a miserable second half behind him tonight when he toes the rubber for Seattle. After a strong first three months that saw him throw three shutouts, Vargas has stumbled to a 1-8 mark in his last 11 starts and has pitched to a 6.49 ERA in that span.

"The fact of the matter is I haven't been very good," Vargas said. "The season's kind of winding down, and I've got to figure it out here pretty quick."

Vargas' latest loss came on Friday in Oakland, as he allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits in five innings, dropping him to 7-13 on the year with a 4.59 ERA.

"I didn't feel like I was getting abused out there tonight," Vargas said. "It was kind of one swing that did it. Other than that the ball wasn't hit very hard. I've just got to be able to put away that guy in that situation, and I didn't do it."

This will be his third start against the Royals and he is 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in his two previous encounters with them.

Vargas will need a little more support tonight than the Mariners afforded Charlie Furbush on Wednesday, as Seattle managed just a Trayvon Robinson home run in a 3-1 loss.

Furbush (3-8) allowed three runs on five hits over a career-high 7 1/3 innings for the Mariners, who have lost six of seven.

"Charlie threw a heck of a ball game," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He was lights out all night long until the eighth."

Kansas City was also nearly no-hit on Wednesday, as it got just two hits in a 7-0 loss to Oakland. Salvador Perez's two-out single in the eighth spoiled Guillermo Moscoso's no-hit bid.

Bruce Chen (10-7) gave up six runs and lost for the second straight time after a five-game winning streak for the Royals, who lost for the first time in three tries.

Kansas City is 3-1 versus the Mariners this season.