Mariners-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

The San Diego Padres no longer have the majors' worst record.

It's hard to tell they're even near the bottom of the standings when they play the Seattle Mariners.

San Diego goes for a fifth consecutive victory over the Mariners on Saturday night when this interleague series continues at Petco Park.

With the Cubs losing Friday, the Padres (25-46) are now one-half game in front of major league-worst Chicago after pounding out 11 hits and snapping a three-game losing streak with a 9-5 series-opening victory over Seattle (30-42).

The Padres' highest-scoring home game of 2012 came after they had lost a season-high five in a row at Petco.

San Diego is batting .230 and scoring a league-low 3.38 runs per game overall, but the club is hitting .284 and averaging 5.25 runs in four games against the Mariners this year.

Saturday's scheduled starter Jason Marquis (1-2, 1.86 ERA) barely needed any run support to help the Padres win the middle game of their first sweep of the season last week in Seattle.

Making his second appearance in the majors after signing a minor-league deal May 29, the veteran right-hander went 6 1-3 innings in a 1-0 victory over the Mariners on June 13 for his first win in a Padres uniform. It was a better performance than he had in Minnesota's 7-0 loss at Seattle on May 5, when Marquis walked six and yielded two runs.

Marquis is looking to build off a 10-strikeout performance - his second-highest total in 277 career starts - in Monday's 2-1 loss to Texas.

"I think this is sort of a second lease on life for him," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website. "The guy, you look at his track record, there is some well-pitched baseball. (General manager Josh Byrnes) went and got him when there was a need for us, and he has taken a hold on this opportunity. He's pitching well. Let's hope it continues."

The Mariners hope Felix Hernandez (4-5, 3.52) can put a stop to their rotation's struggles. Seattle's starters have a combined 7.44 ERA during the team's 3-9 stretch, yielding 29 runs over 19 1-3 innings in the first four games of this road trip.

"Our starters have been struggling on the road and it makes it tough," manager Eric Wedge said.

In his last outing, the 2010 AL Cy Young winner fanned seven and surrendered one run in seven innings of Sunday's 2-1 win over San Francisco. Hernandez didn't pick up the victory, but it was a promising performance after he posted a 6.37 ERA in his previous six outings.

"Felix is Felix," first baseman Justin Smoak told the Mariners' official website. "When he doesn't dominate, everybody freaks out. But he's going to dominate. That's what he does."

After missing a start with a back injury, Hernandez didn't have his best stuff in a 5-4 loss to San Diego on June 12, walking three and getting tagged for five runs and nine hits in six innings.

Miguel Olivo, who hit a solo homer Friday, has caught Hernandez's last four starts, but Wedge said rookie Jesus Montero will play Saturday.

Ichiro Suzuki, 4 for 16 with four walks against Marquis, is batting .370 in 31 career games in San Diego following Friday's 3-for-5 effort.

The Padres had dropped four straight and 14 of 17 at home to Seattle prior to this series.

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