King Felix, Mariners open set with Blue Jays

( - Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners travel north to Rogers Centre to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series.

Seattle began its nine-game road trip by dropping two of three in Baltimore this week.

The Mariners are coming off Wednesday's 5-4 setback, in which they rallied back to tie the game in the seventh inning after starter J.A. Happ served up a first-inning grand slam. However, Baltimore eventually tacked on one more run in the bottom of the eighth, and Seattle went on to strand a season-high 13 baserunners. The M's are hitting just .158 with runners in scoring position over the last eight games.

"We really battled, just couldn't come through," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We just couldn't really get the big hit to really put us over the hump."

Hernandez is coming off his first loss of the season last Saturday against Boston as his five-start win streak came to a halt. Seattle's ace issued four walks and was charged with four earned runs on seven hits over six innings. Three of those free passes came during the sixth inning when Boston broke a 2-2 tie.

"He tweaked his ankle a little bit," said McClendon, who decided to leave Hernandez in the game after visiting with him on the mound. "He told me it was OK, but I'm not sure if it didn't affect him a little bit. He seemed to lose his command after that a little bit. It was a tough inning for him."

Meanwhile, Toronto is looking to build some momentum after splitting a four- game home set with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this week. The Blue Jays had lost five straight prior to that series.

On Wednesday, R.A. Dickey went the distance to help lift Toronto to a 5-4 victory at Rogers Centre. The knuckleballer gave up a pair of home runs but also struck out seven as he was charged with four earned runs on five hits.

"We've been waiting for one of those," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "In the big leagues nowadays, especially in this park, a great offensive park, complete games are tough to come by. But Dickey was outstanding."

Danny Valencia and Edwin Encarnacion both homered to spark the offense in the victory.

Marco Estrada gets the starting assignment for Toronto on Friday night. The former reliever moved into the rotation three weeks ago and has gotten stretched out with 96 pitches or more in his last two starts. However, he failed to get past the fifth inning in either of those outings as he walked a combined six batters.

Outside of his four walks against the Astros on Saturday, Estrada was effective, striking out eight batters while allowing just three hits.

This is the first time these two teams are crossing paths this season.