Royals-Mariners preview

BY foxsports • July 19, 2012

(AP) -- It's been more than a month since Felix Hernandez lost a start for the Seattle Mariners.

The right-hander looks to continue his recent run of success to help the Mariners rebound from their latest defeat and take three of four on the road from the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Hernandez (7-5, 2.92 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in six starts since losing to San Diego on June 12. He's allowed one run or none in five of those outings, and has yielded one over 16 2-3 innings while striking out 18 in the last two. The 2010 AL Cy Young award winner tossed a three-hitter and struck out 12 on Saturday for his second complete-game shutout in four starts, a 7-0 win over Texas.

"He's pretty special," teammate Kyle Seager told the Mariners' official website. "You see great hitters taking terrible swings. Anytime you get a guy doing that kind of thing, you know his stuff is the real deal."

Though Hernandez has looked dominant of late, he's posted a 3.71 ERA while losing three straight starts at Kansas City. However, the Mariners have not supported him with a single run in any of those outings.

Seattle (39-54) has totaled 25 runs and 39 hits while winning two of the first three in this set but fell short in an 8-7 loss to the Royals on Wednesday. Seager and Casper Wells each homered and drove in two runs as the Mariners overcame a four-run deficit, only to watch Billy Butler hit a walk-off homer to help Kansas City (39-51) snap a three-game skid and win for the fourth time in 16 games.

"There's no doubt (it's a big win for us), putting up seven runs and getting a nice lead and having the lead late in the game and them coming and fighting back," said Butler, who is 5 for 11 with two homers and four RBIs in the series. "(The Mariners) brought their sticks this series."

Kansas City's lone All-Star this season, Butler is batting .400 (16 for 40) in his last 10 games.

"Billy is a special hitter," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's a special guy, knows velocities, knows exactly what ball is doing, if it cutting or sinking. He studies that stuff real religiously."

Wells has batted .327 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 12 games after going 2 for 23 in his previous seven contests.

Scheduled Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.16) is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in four starts against the Mariners, including 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three at Kauffman Stadium.

The right-hander is 1-0 in his last two starts overall but has not made it out of the fifth inning of either. He allowed three runs, three walks and left after five following a 97-pitch effort Saturday, not getting a decision in the Royals' 6-3 win over Chicago.

Ichiro Suzuki, who had three hits Wednesday, is 5 for 12 (.417) with two home runs and a double against Hochevar.

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