Seattle hands Vargas ball against Royals

Jason Vargas' name has come up recently in some trade discussions.

Tonight, he gets another chance to showcase his talents when the Seattle Mariners open a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Vargas, one of the more intriguing lefties on the market, was terrific in beating the Oakland Athletics on July 7, as he gave up a run and seven hits and went the distance to run his record to 8-7, while lowering his ERA to 4.07.

"That was just a good, crisp ballgame," manager Eric Wedge said after the win. "Obviously, Jason set the tone."

Vargas, who leads the Mariners with eight wins, has faced the Royals three times and is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA.

Seattle dropped two of three over the weekend to the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, including a 4-0 loss on Sunday at Safeco Field.

Michael Saunders was the only Seattle player with multiple hits as the Mariners fell for the sixth time in eight games. Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2) was dealt the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings.

"Iwakuma and the bullpen, they pitched well to keep an offense like Texas down to four runs and give us every opportunity to stay in and win a ballgame," Saunders said. "We just didn't come through."

Kansas City, meanwhile, also started its second half on a sour note, as it lost its series to the front-running Chicago White Sox, falling 2-1 in Sunday's rubber match.

Luis Mendoza (3-6) pitched well enough to win for the Royals, but was dealt a hard-luck loss after giving up two runs, four hits and four walks in 7 1/3 frames.

Chris Getz's RBI single in the fifth accounted for Kansas City's only run, as the home team squandered plenty of opportunities throughout. Nonetheless, the Royals have lost seven of their last 10.

Getting the call for the Royals tonight will be lefty Jonathan Sanchez, who is enjoying a miserable first year in Kansas City. Sanchez won his first start with the Royals following the offseason trade from San Francisco for All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera, but has lost all five of his decisions since and has pitched to a 6.75 ERA.

Sanchez lost his final start before the break on July 6 to Detroit, as he surrendered four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He also walked three batters and has issued 19 free passes in his last four starts.

His 7.4 walks per nine innings and 0.79 strikeout-to-walk rate would both rank as the worst in the majors if he qualified.

Kansas City took five of eight from the Mariners last season.