While the Seattle Mariners continue to surge, the Toronto Blue Jays remain in a rut.
After rallying to win the series opener in extra innings, the visiting Mariners look to extend their winning streak to five games Saturday and hand the Blue Jays a fifth straight defeat.
A week ago, Seattle (11-10) was in the midst of a four-game skid in which it totaled eight runs and was on the wrong end of last Saturday's perfect game thrown by Chicago's Philip Humber. However, since losing 7-4 to the White Sox on Sunday, the Mariners have totaled 21 runs during a three-game sweep at Detroit and won 9-5 in 10 innings at Toronto on Friday.
"The perfect game might have been the best thing that happened to us" said Canadian-born outfielder Michael Saunders, who homered twice and drove in five runs in the series opener.
Seattle was no-hit for five innings by Toronto's Ricky Romero and trailed 5-3 in the ninth, but Saunders opened that inning with a solo shot and John Jaso tied the game with an RBI single. Saunders delivered the knock out blow with his 10th-inning grand slam.
A usually light-hitting fourth year outfielder, Saunders hit .189 (7 for 37) with two RBIs in his first 12 games of the season but is batting .364 (8 for 22) with nine RBIs in his last six.
"I still have a long way to go but I'm seeing results and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in the box,' Saunders said.
Seattle, which has not won a series at Toronto since 2008, could face a major challenge Saturday against Blue Jays starter and former Mariner Brandon Morrow (1-1, 3.71 ERA).
Morrow, who spent his first three seasons in Seattle mostly working out of the bullpen, went 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA as a starter against the Mariners in 2011.
The right-hander allowed 10 runs in 13 innings over his two previous starts before throwing 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 win at Kansas City on Monday, allowing the only run on a solo homer.
Now, Morrow will try to help the Blue Jays (10-10) end their longest skid of the season.
After being held to three runs while being swept in three games at Baltimore, Toronto came alive at the plate Friday but the bullpen blew its fifth save in nine chances.
"We're all a little bit down," said third baseman Brett Lawrie, who committed a key error in the ninth that led to the tying run.
Eric Thames homered and had three hits while Edwin Encarnacion hit his fifth home run as the Blue Jays lost for just the second time in their last 10 home meetings with the Mariners.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista's average dropped to .183 after an 0-for-4 night Friday. The two-time defending major league home run champ hit 97 in the past two seasons but has only three in 71 at_bats thus far in 2012.
However, he's 7 for 12 (.583) with three homers against scheduled Seattle starter Kevin Millwood (0-1, 7.04).
The right-hander allowed one run, four hits and struck out seven in six innings of a 4-3 win at Texas in his season debut April 11, but has yielded 12 runs and 17 hits in 9.1 innings over his last two outings.
Millwood, who gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-4 loss to Chicago on Sunday, is 2-7 with a 5.17 ERA in 12 career starts against the Blue Jays.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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