The Seattle Mariners are closing in on their longest win streak in five years, but that attempt will come against a red-hot pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Mariners will seek a seventh consecutive victory and sweep of the Blue Jays on Wednesday night while trying to hand Carlos Villanueva his first loss of the season.
Dustin Ackley got Seattle off to a strong start during a 7-2 win Tuesday with a leadoff home run and matched a career high with three RBIs. Brendan Ryan added three hits and drove in a run to help the Mariners boost their batting average to .314 during the win streak.
Seattle is 28th in the majors with a .233 average.
"One thing that's important to me is you're not just doing it one way or another," manager Eric Wedge said. "You have to have multiple ways to win ballgames up here if you're going to be a consistent winner and you're seeing us do that."
The Mariners (49-57) will be trying to win seven in a row for the first time since an eight-game run June 23-July 1, 2007. They capped that streak with their most recent three-game sweep of Toronto.
Seattle, though, will have to face Villanueva (6-0, 2.92 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in five games since joining the rotation June 29. The right-hander gave up two solo homers and two other hits over five innings during an 8-3 victory against Detroit on Friday.
"What he has shown repeatedly is that he is going to keep the game under control," manager John Farrell said. "He sets the tone. He throws strikes and is capable of making the key pitch in tough situations."
Villanueva, who has posted a 1.93 ERA while winning four consecutive outings, will pitch opposite another streaking starter, Blake Beavan (6-6, 5.20), during his first start against the Mariners.
Beavan has won all three of his starts since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on July 17 and has allowed one run in each of his last two outings, beating Kansas City 6-1 on Friday.
"I'm pleased, but I'm not satisfied," Beavan told the team's official website. "I want to keep building on each start and get back to where I need to be, which is competing and getting deep in the game and giving our guys a chance to win a ballgame every night."
Beavan is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against Toronto (51-52). He gave up three runs and seven hits over 5 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 9-5 road win April 27.
Ryan, batting .471 (8 for 17) during the win streak, is 5 for 8 with two doubles and a triple against Villanueva.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|July 26, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||15-Day DL||Broken right hand|
|July 26, 2012||Adam Lind||15-Day DL||Mid-back strain|
|July 25, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
|July 17, 2012||Jason Frasor||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|July 17, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
SEATTLE (AP) -- The only grumpy person in the Seattle Mariners ' clubhouse was Felix Hernandez , who good-naturedly griped when the thumping music was turned down postgame.
After all, the Mariners are enjoying making some noise.
Seattle won its seventh consecutive game and completed a series sweep thanks to John Jaso 's go-ahead single in the sixth inning and Blake Beavan 's 7 ? strong innings in a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
The winning streak is Seattle's longest since an eight-game run June 23-July 1, 2011. Seattle is 14-6 since the All-Star break, which is second-best in the American League to Oakland's 13-5. The Mariners have won 13 of their last 17 games, including eight of the past nine.
"I don't think the clubhouse has been this exciting in a while," Beavan said. "We're all just jumping around like little elementary (school) kids in recess."
Seattle has given up three runs or less in six of the last seven games. Beavan (7-6) gave up three runs and seven hits in his 82-pitch outing. He struck out four and is undefeated (4-0) since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma July 17.
After Toronto came after his fastball early, Beavan was able to blend in a slider to to keep the Blue Jays at bay.
"Obviously, we saw early on they were going to be very aggressive with him," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Toronto starter Carlos Villanueva (6-1) threw six innings, allowed seven hits, four earned runs and struck out six. He went 4-0 and allowed just five earned runs in July. He featured off-speed pitches and was perfect in the first three innings Wednesday. But, Seattle was able to adjust to score four runs in the middle innings.
"Seemed like his fastball was his fourth pitch," Jaso said.
Two days after being acquired from the Blue Jays for reliever Steve Delabar , Eric Thames ' two-run homer to center field off Villanueva drove in Mike Carp and tied the score at 3 in the fifth.
Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said Thames had "some thump in his bat" when he was acquired. Thames quickly proved his new boss correct with his fourth homer of the year.
"I went to the homer-less territory, from what everybody says," Thames said.
Jaso's two-out single to center scored Michael Saunders and gave Seattle a 4-3 sixth-inning lead. Kyle Seager singled to put runners at first and third, but Casper Wells grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Brendan Ryan doubled and a broken-bat bloop to left field by Dustin Ackley off Aaron Loup scored Ryan for a 5-3 lead in the seventh.
"Again, they bunched some hits together to manufacture some runs," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "They are playing with a lot of confidence. They're playing very well."
Villanueva struck out two and picked up four fly ball outs to center field the first time through Seattle's order. None of the Mariners made strong contact.
Beavan was almost as staunch while throwing 19 of his first 23 pitches for strikes. He allowed just Colby Rasmus ' home run, then retired eight consecutive before Rasmus singled to lead-off the fourth inning. Rasmus went 2 for 4 and is 5 for 7 in his career against Beavan.
Edwin Encarnacion followed Rasmus by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play. Ackley did well to turn it with Rasmus sliding high and late into him. It was crucial since the next batter, Kelly Johnson , homered to center, putting the Blue Jays ahead 2-0.
Two of the first three hits Beavan allowed were home runs.
Jeff Mathis ' sacrifice fly to deep center scored David Cooper , who had doubled, to put Toronto up 3-1 in the fifth. The Blue Jays ran themselves out of what could have been a big inning when rookie Anthony Gose broke for second after lead runner Rajai Davis bluffed a steal attempt. Davis eventually was tagged out in a rundown and left Rasmus standing at the plate.