While things haven't really gone Jered Weaver 's way this year, he's starting to find his groove.
He could, however, be in for a challenge against the red-hot Raul Ibanez , who has had his number over the years.
After winning a career-high 20 games in 2012, Weaver (3-4, 3.38 ERA), who missed over seven weeks with a fractured left elbow earlier this year, went 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA in his first seven starts. The right-hander, though, has come around in last three, going 2-0 while allowing two runs in 20 2-3 innings.
Weaver struck out six over 6 2-3 innings of five-hit ball to beat Boston 3-0 on Sunday, winning back-to-back outings for the first time this year.
"It's the best stuff that Jered's had all season, so it's a good time for it," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB's official website.
Weaver lost each of his three matchups against the Mariners (41-52) last year, dropping to 12-7 with a 3.21 ERA in the series. He is 2-3 with a 2.20 ERA in his last five starts at Safeco Field.
Weaver can't be looking forward to facing Ibanez, who is 14 for 30 with four homers and two doubles in their matchups. The 41-year-old Ibanez continues to turn heads, going 25 for 70 (.357) with 10 homers, 18 RBIs and 15 runs in his last 17 games.
Ibanez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading 23rd and 24th homers as Seattle took Friday's opener 8-3 to snap a three-game skid.
"What hasn't he done," winning pitcher Joe Saunders said. "From my perspective, it's fun to be part of. To see what he's doing day in and day out, it's impressive.
"I just hope he can keep it going. He's the heart and soul of this ball club, really, the way he goes about preparing, the teammate he is, the leader he is."
Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales also went deep for the Mariners, who broke the franchise record by homering in their 20th consecutive game. Seattle has left the yard 35 times over that stretch, the most in the majors since June 20.
The Mariners now turn to Hernandez (9-4, 2.69), who has posted the AL's second-highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.23) - behind only teammate Hisashi Iwakuma (5.89).
Hernandez is looking to win a season-high fifth consecutive decision after yielding two runs in seven innings Monday in an 11-4 victory over Boston.
"He wasn't as tough as I've seen him in the past when he was throwing 96-97, but he still is a great pitcher," Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of Hernandez, who struck out six. "He goes out there and throws all his pitches for strikes and still gets of lot of swings and misses."
Hernandez is 7-12 versus Los Angeles with a 4.12 ERA - his second-highest mark against any team he has faced more than once. Hernandez has allowed at least five runs in five of his last seven starts in the series.
Mariners rookie infielder Nick Franklin has missed the last two games with a right knee injury but he could return Saturday. He is hitting .327 with a homer, six doubles and 10 RBIs over a 13-game stretch at home.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|June 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Nondisplaced bone fracture, right wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist|
|June 23, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb injury|
|June 21, 2013||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|June 21, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Right wrist soreness|
|June 18, 2013||Jason Vargas||15-Day DL||Blood clot, left arm|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|June 21, 2013||Michael Morse||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
SEATTLE (AP) -- That his worst outing of the season came the last time he faced the Los Angeles Angels was constantly in the back of Felix Hernandez 's mind.
Hernandez clearly learned from the mistakes made less than a month ago, and got some help from the Seattle Mariners ' surging offense.
Hernandez threw eight shutout innings and Justin Smoak drove in four runs off Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver , including a three-run homer, in the Mariners' 6-0 win over the Angels on Saturday night.
"It's always on my mind. You never forget that," Hernandez said. "Like I said, I was just trying to be aggressive and pound the strike zone and get ahead of the hitters."
Hernandez's worst start of the season came on June 20 against the Angels. Hernandez was knocked around for 12 hits and six earned runs in five innings, one of just two starts this season in which he's failed to pitch at least six complete innings. He allowed two home runs as well and got a no decision.
This time, Hernandez (10-4) cruised. Seattle's ace allowed just two baserunners to reach third, the first coming on Mike Trout 's triple in the third and not again until the eighth. Hernandez didn't rely on the strikeout and instead let the Angels put the ball in play. Hernandez struck out Albert Pujols twice and got Josh Hamilton and Erick Aybar swinging, but mostly relied on his defense. Hernandez allowed seven hits and didn't walk a batter.
The 10 victories before the All-Star break are the most in Hernandez's career. Yoervis Medina pitched the ninth for Seattle.
"Felix did a great job. He had to work hard a couple of innings, but as he usually does, makes pitches and gets through it and gets out of it," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Smoak had an RBI single in the fourth inning that gave Seattle the lead, then provided the big blow in the sixth to cap a two-out rally. Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager both singled and after Weaver received a visit from pitching coach Mike Butcher , Smoak hit the first pitch out to center field for his eighth homer of the season. The four RBIs were the most for Smoak since he drove in a career-high six runs on May 30, 2012, against Texas.
Smoak's long ball was the 21st straight game with at least one homer for the Mariners, the longest streak for an American League team since the Rangers set the major league record with 27 straight in 2002.
"Everybody has been busting our chops on offense and rightfully so but I think you've got to give these kids kudos for that," Wedge said.
Seattle first got to Weaver (3-5) in the fourth when Morales and Seager had consecutive singles. Seager's hit extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Smoak then capped a 10-pitch at-bat by lining a change-up from Weaver into right field. Third-base coach Daren Brown made the wrong call in sending Morales from second and the throw from Hamilton easily beat the runner. But catcher Hank Conger failed to catch the throw cleanly and Morales scored. Conger was originally given an error, but the scoring decision was changed and Smoak was credited with an RBI.
Morales and Seager were at the center of the Mariners' rally in the sixth with two-out hits that set the stage for Smoak's 411-foot shot to center field. During his 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth, Smoak saw mostly offspeed pitches, so he had a feeling a fastball could be coming.
"I was thinking he was going to try and sneak a fastball in there first pitch and I was able to put a good swing on it," Smoak said.
Seattle added two more in the seventh on a wild pitch and an RBI single from Raul Ibanez .
Weaver had allowed just two earned runs combined in his previous three starts, but Seattle raised his pitch count early. Weaver had thrown 107 pitches when he left after 5 2-3 innings, his shortest start since June 10 against Baltimore.
"It goes both ways. I think if we had gotten on the board it might have let (Weaver) do a couple of things," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was pitching with his back against the wall."
NOTES: Smoak now has five career games with four or more RBIs. ... Seattle RHP Stephen Pryor threw a second simulated game on Saturday and could be headed for a rehab assignment with Single-A Everett next week. OF Michael Morse (quad) is still not ready for a rehab assignment, Wedge said. ... Angels RHP Tommy Hanson (forearm) threw a simulated game on Saturday and could be headed out on a rehab start next weekend following another bullpen session, Scioscia said.