Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners
- The Rangers are 62-71 at Safeco Field all-time, but they have gone 25-16 there since 2010. The Mariners took two of three from Texas at Safeco in April, winning 6-5 twice and losing 6-3.
- Texas has allowed 4.86 runs per game, most in the AL, while allowing a .280 opponents' batting average, highest in the majors. The Rangers have allowed 10 or more hits in 10 of their last 13 games, and they have gone 5-8 over that span.
- Seattle has not allowed double-digit runs in its last 79 games, the longest active streak in the majors. The Mariners have allowed 30 runs in their last 12 games (2.5 rpg), going 8-4 in those games, but Seattle was swept in its most recent series, scoring seven runs in three losses to the Yankees.
- Nick Tepesch has gone 1-1 with a 4.19 ERA (9 ER/19.1 IP) in four starts against the Mariners, including a win on May 21 in which he allowed three earned runs in 6.1 innings.
- Felix Hernandez struck out a career-high 15 batters in his last start Sunday. Hernandez became the eighth pitcher in the last 100 years and the first AL pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1990 to have 15+ strikeouts, allow no runs and not earn a win.
- Robinson Cano is 12-for-36 (.333) with two home runs and 10 RBI against the Rangers this season. Cano is also hitting .333 overall this season, highest among AL qualifiers and his highest since 2006 (.342).
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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Elvis Andrus is providing a spark for the Texas Rangers.
Strong pitching is also helping.
Andrus attempts to continue his recent offensive burst and give Joe Saunders some much-needed run support as the Rangers try to get back to .500 on Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners.
Andrus has five hits and three runs as Texas (33-34) has won back-to-back games following a four-game skid. The two-time All-Star shortstop was instrumental to Friday's 1-0 victory at Seattle in the opener of this three-game series. His second hit was a single in the ninth, and he stole two bases before scoring on a fielder's choice.
Andrus has hit .379 with six RBIs and as many runs over his last eight games at Safeco Field.
Good pitching, though, has been a bigger key for the Rangers of late. Yu Darvish tossed a six-hitter in Wednesday's 6-0 win over Miami, then Nick Tepesch and three relievers combined on a two-hitter as the Rangers beat Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Friday.
"It's just a win. We see King Felix a lot so it's just a win," manager Ron Washington said.
Washington's club hasn't posted three straight shutouts since July 2011 and will need a big effort from Saunders (0-2, 3.60 ERA) to do it Saturday. He's facing the Mariners (34-33) for the first time since going 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA for them last year.
He's been much better when facing Seattle, particularly at Safeco. The left-hander is 8-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 15 career starts versus the Mariners, including a 2.13 ERA while going 6-0 over his last nine games against them in Seattle.
Saunders hasn't won anywhere since beating Houston with the Mariners on Aug. 31, going 0-5 in his last eight starts. He spent nearly two months on the disabled list with an ankle injury but has pitched well in three starts since returning, allowing four earned runs in 16 1-3 innings.
However, the Rangers have backed him with a total of two runs in those games.
The offense mustered one run of support for Saunders on Sunday, when he allowed three runs - two earned - with a season-high four walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Cleveland.
"Working through jams, getting out of jams and trying to get deeper into the ballgame, trying to save the bullpen a little bit - that's going to be the goal from here on out," Saunders told the team's official website. "No excuse, you've just got to get guys out."
The Mariners are batting .175 with seven runs during a four-game slide, and Mike Zunino had both of their hits Friday.
Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 5.97) is seeking his first win since April 1. That victory drought nearly ended Monday at Tampa Bay, but he was pulled after allowing two men to reach with two outs in the fifth inning. The right-hander gave up four hits and a career-high five walks in the 3-0 win.
Ramirez went 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA over his previous four outings.
"He was OK. It was better than his last two or three outings," manager Lloyd McClendon told the team's official website. "He made some good pitches at times. We just have to get him to slow down a little bit out there and concentrate on what he's doing, but for the most part, I was pleased."
McClendon pulled Ramirez after two-plus innings at Texas on April 17, getting charged with five runs but not getting a decision in an 8-6 defeat.
Updated June 14, 2014