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SEA@TB: Felix fans nine over eight terrific innings

After dealing with limited run support for much of his career with the Mariners, little has been different for Felix Hernandez at the beginning of the 2012 season.

In the six games the Mariners' ace has started this season, the offense has scored three runs or fewer four times. Yet, in his two wins this season, Seattle's bats have exploded, scoring 17 runs in support of Hernandez.

Against the Rays on Monday, King Felix tossed eight innings, giving up only one run on five hits, while walking four and striking out nine. The outing lowered his ERA to 2.23, but the right-hander took the no-decision in a 3-2 loss.

All Hernandez can hope for on Saturday is that the Mariners' bats will come to life against the Twins at Safeco Field.

Yet, that may be difficult with Twins right-hander Jason Marquis coming off his best start of the season on Sunday against the Royals.

Allowing three runs on six hits scattered over six innings, Marquis picked up his second win of the season and lowered his ERA to 6.23.

"I really focused on the bottom half of the strike zone," said Marquis, who improved to 2-0 on the year. "My sinker was working, so I wanted to let my defense help me. So that was the game plan, and I executed it better than I did in the first two games. So I'll keep working to get better."

In four career starts against Seattle, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA.

"He keeps you in the game and gives you innings. He's given us a couple of quality starts," acting manager Scott Ullger said. "Hopefully, he can do that [on Saturday]. We're facing a pretty tough pitcher. It doesn't get any easier."

Twins: Morneau sits out another game
• Justin Morneau wasn't in the Twins' lineup again on Friday, as he continues to recover from a sore left wrist.

However, Morneau could be back soon, after he got news that an MRI exam just showed inflammation and fluid in his wrist.

"It's a situation where we're going to trust Justin when he feels right and when he's comfortable to get back in there," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "It's what he's comfortable doing, and we'll leave it up to him and the trainers."

Mariners: Figgins moved to utility role
• Manager Eric Wedge announced before Friday's game against the Twins that Chone Figgins would serve in a utility role for the foreseeable future.

The team's leadoff hitter and left fielder to begin the season, Figgins is batting .189 and has just five hits in his last 45 at-bats.

"I talked to Figgy today. I told him we're going to change his role, he's going to [play in] more of a utility role for us now," Wedge said. "I had a good conversation with Chone earlier today before I posted the lineup, and he was a total pro about it. He understood."

Worth noting
• Hernandez is 4-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 12 career starts against the Twins.

• In 49 career games against the Mariners, Joe Mauer is batting .376 with 21 doubles, five home runs and 29 RBIs. His average is the highest in the Majors against Seattle. Comments