After two strong performances from Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the Seattle Mariners turn to Jason Vargas Wednesday in the third installment of a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
Vargas is 6-1 in his last seven decisions and hasn't factored in the outcome in each of his previous two starts. He would like to put his most recent start in the rearview mirror after he lasted a season-low four innings in a 9-8 setback against the Chicago White Sox in which he surrendered six runs and seven hits.
The left-handed Vargas is 13-8 in 27 starts with a 3.75 earned run average this season and 9-5 in 16 road outings. He tossed 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 win versus Minnesota on Aug. 18 and is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in seven career games (6 starts) in this series.
Seattle can record a series victory with a win tonight and made it two wins in a row behind Iwakuma, who yielded just one unearned run and one hit in six innings. Tom Wilhelmsen got the final out of the game for his 20th save.
"Iwakuma did it the hard way," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He was just getting by all night long. But we've seen him do that before. He just didn't have the same command of his fastball and he had to rely more on his secondary stuff, but he really went out and competed."
Iwakuma was backed by a three-run homer from Dustin Ackley, while Brendan Ryan ended 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Kyle Seager had two hits and two runs batted in for Seattle, which is nine games off the Wild Card lead and won for the 10th time in the past 13 tries.
The Mariners have homered in 11 straight games, the longest streak since an 11-game run back in 2009. They are 2-3 on a seven-game road trip since ripping off eight wins in a row and four games under .500.
Meanwhile, Minnesota continued its slide and has dropped 16 of its last 19 games. Twins starter Scott Diamond, who is currently appealing a suspension, was saddled with the loss for giving up five runs and seven hits in seven innings of work.
"It's frustrating and it's obviously not where we want to be," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "This time of year you want to play better the last month and have something to build on, but it feels like we've taken a step backwards."
Ben Revere and Ryan Doumit each drove in a run for the Twins.
Samuel Deduno gets the nod for Minnesota and has lost back-to-back starts to the Mariners and Texas Rangers. Deduno faced Seattle for the first time in a 5-1 loss on Aug. 19 at Safeco Field, where he gave up two runs in six innings. He then allowed seven runs and 11 hits in five innings of an 8-0 loss at Texas on Friday.
Deduno is 4-2 with a 4.24 earned run average in nine starts this season, going 2-0 in three outings at Target Field.
Minnesota has lost seven in a row to the Mariners and is 1-7 in the season series so far.