The Seattle Mariners are rolling, and that's usually the case when hosting the Kansas City Royals.
The Mariners have a chance to accomplish a rare feat Friday night against the Royals as they seek a seventh win in eight games.
Seattle (18-16) has won 11 of 14 after losing eight in a row, due largely to improved work from the pitching staff. The Mariners posted a 5.00 ERA during that season-high losing streak, but have a 3.54 mark since - 2.00 over the past five games.
Strong pitching is a big reason why Seattle has won 10 of 13 home meetings with Kansas City (16-18), compiling a 2.03 ERA.
The Mariners have also shut out the Royals in each of the past three matchups. They have an opportunity to become the first team to reel off four straight shutouts of a single opponent since the Florida Marlins did it against the Montreal Expos from April 8-15, 2004.
Hisashi Iwakuma got Seattle closer to matching that feat, allowing four hits in eight innings of a 1-0 win over the Royals on Thursday in the opener of this four-game set.
"A guy throws like that, you hate to lose," said right fielder Corey Hart, who delivered an RBI single in the third inning and is batting .389 in 10 career games against the Royals.
Brandon Maurer (1-0, 6.92 ERA) will try to follow Iwakuma's lead Friday when he makes his fourth start of the season for the Mariners. He's struggled in the last two, allowing nine runs and 13 hits over 8 2-3 innings.
The second-year right-hander earned an 8-7 win Sunday at Houston despite yielding four runs and two homers in five innings. He allowed one run in his final inning, but pitched out of a jam with runners at second and third with one out.
"It was a big inning in a lot of ways for him from a mental standpoint," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think he learned a lot. And I think maybe he grew up a little bit."
Maurer was on the mound the last time Kansas City scored against Seattle. He surrendered one earned run with six strikeouts over seven innings in a 6-5, 12-inning loss Sept. 23.
Thursday's loss was the seventh in eight games at Safeco Field for the Royals, who are batting .195 during that span.
Eric Hosmer has been mostly immune to those struggles, collecting two of his team's four hits Thursday to improve to 9 for 25 (.360) in his last six games in Seattle. He's 9 for 18 in four games overall, and 2 for 4 with a double off Maurer.
Kansas City's Jason Vargas (2-1, 3.50) looks to continue his success against his former team. The left-hander, who pitched for the Mariners from 2010-12, is 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts against them.
His former teammates should be a welcome sight after he was tagged for 12 runs and 21 hits over 11 1-3 innings in his last two starts. Vargas lasted a season-low five innings and allowed seven runs and 11 hits Sunday in a 9-4 loss to Detroit.
He's posted a 2.25 ERA in three road starts but has no decisions to show for his efforts with only six total runs of support.
Robinson Cano is 9 for 20 with a pair of doubles off Vargas.
The Associated Press News Service
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