The All-Star break did nothing to cool the Seattle Mariners' red-hot offense.
The Mariners hope that can continue into Saturday night as they look to extend their season-best four-game winning streak against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Although Seattle (44-52) still ranks near the bottom of the AL in runs scored, on-base percentage and batting average, that hasn't been the case lately. The Mariners have recorded double-digits in hits 11 times in 16 contests and have averaged 5.9 runs while batting .285 during that stretch with 30 home runs.
Brad Miller, who entered the break in a 1-for-12 rut, hit his first two career homers in Friday 10-7 victory over the Astros (33-62).
"He has some power,' manager Eric Wedge said. ``He has considerable power talking about ball off the bat, the way it jumps."
Kyle Seager is batting .421 during his 15-game hitting streak, including three home runs in his last five games. Justin Smoak is 5 for his last 10 with two homers and five RBIs.
Seattle has homered in a team-record 23 straight games, tied for the sixth-longest such streak in major league history dating to 1916.
That's the challenge Erik Bedard (3-6, 4.61 ERA) faces as he goes against his former team for only the second time since the Mariners traded him to Boston on July 31, 2011. The left-hander made six trips to the disabled list in three and a half years with the Mariners while winning just 15 games.
In his return to Seattle on April 9, Bedard pitched four scoreless innings before leaving early due to a 65-pitch limit.
The left-hander has lost three straight starts, due in part to an offense that has provided him with four runs of support over that span.
Bedard allowed three runs and eight hits over five innings in a 5-0 defeat at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Friday's loss was the 13th in 16 games for the Astros, who were batting .208 with a .314 slugging percentage during their skid prior to their series opener against the Mariners. The offense did, however, show positive signs in the defeat, collecting six extra-base hits, including two homers and two triples.
Brandon Barnes led the charge with Houston's first five-hit performance since May 2008 and the team's first cycle since May 2006. Barnes entered the night 0 for his last 14.
Barnes and the Astros will next see Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 3.02), who on June 10, boasted a 7-1 record, a 1.79 ERA and a 30 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings streak. Since then, he has given up at least three runs in six straight starts while posting a 6.25 ERA. Iwakuma, who allowed 10 home runs over his first 15 starts, has surrendered 11 in his last five.
Still, the right-hander is among the league leaders with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.95. He snapped a five-start winless skid Sunday, holding the Angels to three runs in seven innings of a 4-3 win.
"I had more life with my fastball,' Iwakuma said through a translator. "I was able to make an adjustment. I gave up one home run but then overall I thought I had better command than I did the last couple of starts.'
He also dominated the Astros the last time he saw them, yielding an unearned run and four hits in seven innings of a 3-2 victory June 10.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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