Mariners Back on Track

The Seattle Mariners' losing streak is over, but their lineup changes might not be scrapped any time soon.

The Mariners look to build on their best performance at the plate in over a week as they face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night in the decisive game of their series.

Oddsmakers have made Seattle -195 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Seattle -195 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Seattle (36-32) ended a six-game losing streak with an unexpected gem from Jeff Weaver, who threw a four-hitter for his first win of the season in a 7-0 victory over Pittsburgh (31-40) on Wednesday night.

A breakout performance at the plate, however, was just as promising for the Mariners. They went 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday after averaging 2.8 runs during their skid.

Seattle manager Mike Hargrove shook up the lineup, dropping designated hitter Jose Vidro from second to eighth in the order, while moving first baseman Richie Sexson from fifth to the No. 7 spot.

The heart of the order was also altered, with Raul Ibanez, Jose Guillen and Kenji Johjima hitting third, fourth and fifth, respectively. That trio combined to go 5-for-11 with three runs and two RBIs.

"I've been thinking about it probably the last three or four days," Hargrove told the Mariners' Web site. "It's time to try something different."

Ibanez went 3-for-4 after hitting .050 (1-for-20) in his previous six games.

Sexson, meanwhile, continued his hot hitting. He is 6-for-13 with two home runs and four RBIs in his last three games.

Seattle will now give the ball to Felix Hernandez (3-4, 4.58 ERA), who took the loss in the third game of the team's losing streak. He is 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA in his last four starts.

The right-hander gave up four runs and a career-worst 12 hits in six innings as the Mariners lost 5-1 to Houston on Friday night.

This will be Hernandez's first appearance against the Pirates.

Pittsburgh will counter with John Van Benschoten (0-1, 3.18), who is coming off his first major league start in nearly three years. The right-hander allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2-3 innings as the Pirates lost 6-1 to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.

Van Benschoten, Pittsburgh's first-round pick in 2001, had reconstructive surgery on both shoulders before the 2005 season. He went 1-3 with a 6.91 ERA in five starts and a relief appearance in 2004.

This will be Van Benschoten's first appearance against Seattle.

The Pirates won two straight before Wednesday, when they were shut out for the seventh time this season, tying them for the National League lead with San Francisco.

Pittsburgh center fielder Chris Duffy has missed four straight games, but was available for pinch-hitting duty Wednesday after testing his sore hamstring before the game.

"He's at about 85 percent," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "We're obviously not going to push it."

Nate McLouth has been taking Duffy's spot in the lineup.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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