M's Try To Cool Hot Angels

When the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners meet on Wednesday, each club will have its most promising young pitcher on the mound.

The Angels' Jered Weaver and the Mariners' Felix Hernandez square off as the top two teams in the AL West close a three-game series at Safeco Field.

These teams have split the first two games of the series to keep the Angels' division lead at four games. Los Angeles (62-43) hopes to get a little more breathing room with Weaver (7-5, 3.68 ERA) starting the finale.

After going 11-2 as a rookie in 2006, Weaver has put together a solid season, holding opponents to three earned runs or fewer in 14 of his 17 starts.

The right-hander gave up a season-high six earned runs in 5 1-3 innings on Friday, but still beat Detroit 11-6. He had allowed six earned runs combined in his previous five outings, but was 1-2 in those games.

Weaver, 24, is 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA in four career starts against the Mariners.

He'll face Hernandez (7-6, 3.85), who leads Seattle starters in ERA and strikeouts (105) despite missing nearly a month because of a strained muscle in his pitching arm.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Seattle -126 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Seattle -126 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The 21-year-old right-hander held Oakland to one run and seven hits in seven innings on Friday in a 7-1 win, snapping the team's seven-game losing streak with his fifth quality start in his last six outings.

"Big Felix stepped to the plate for us tonight," manager John McLaren told the Mariners' official Web site. "He had a solid outing.

"He responded well tonight and we needed it."

The Mariners (58-47) could use another win from their young ace after falling to 3-8 against the Angels this year with an 8-0 loss on Tuesday. Hernandez is 2-3 with a 4.24 ERA in six career starts against the Angels, but is 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA in two starts against them this season.

"We are looking to win the series, that's what it's all about," McLaren said. "We feel good about having Felix out there and if we win the game, we've done what we wanted to accomplish."

Seattle had pulled to within three games of the division lead with a four-game win streak, but stranded seven runners on Tuesday while managing only seven hits to suffer its third shutout in 12 games.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has won five of six and is batting .311 against Seattle after collecting 14 hits in Tuesday's victory.

Gary Matthews Jr. hit his first two home runs in six weeks, and is batting .362 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in 29 games against the Mariners since the beginning of the 2006 season, which he spent with Texas.

"I had a pure cycle last year in Texas, and that's pretty hard to beat," said Matthews, who signed with the Angels as a free agent in November. "But this was nice. To be sitting here in first place ... that's why I came here."

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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