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Smyly fans seven over six solid frames

For the sixth and final time of the 2012 season, the Tigers and Mariners will meet Wednesday, as they conclude a three-game series in Safeco Field. Both teams will send lefties to the mound in the finale.

Rookie Drew Smyly will look to follow up Justin Verlander, who earned Detroit its first win in five games against Seattle this season. Verlander took away the chance for a sweep, and the 22-year-old Smyly will try to lead his team to a series win.

Smyly is the only pitcher in the Tigers' starting rotation who has not faced the Mariners this season. However, he'll look to treat it just like any other game -- a strategy that's worked for him. His 1.61 ERA is the second-lowest in the American League, but in four of his five starts he's taken a no-decision.

"Of course you want to get a win, but as long as the team wins, there's not much you can do about it," said Smyly after his start on Friday, when the Tigers beat the White Sox, 5-4, but Smyly didn't factor into the decision. "All you can do is just go out and pitch and keep your team in the game and hope for a win or a no-decision. Just stay away from the losses."

The Mariners will counter with Jason Vargas, who threw seven innings and earned a win against the Tigers earlier this year in Comerica Park.

"I thought [Vargas] did a good job of going left to right and up and down," manager Eric Wedge said after Vargas' win in Detroit. "Against a lineup like that, you've got to do that. And he's thrown very well this year for us. Very consistent."

With Miguel Olivo on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain, both Jesus Montero and John Jaso have had to step up. So far, so good.

Montero has taken over the role of everyday catcher, and in 12 games behind the plate is hitting .386 (17-for-447) with three home runs, four doubles and nine RBIs.

And Wedge has really enjoyed the presence of Jaso. The team's third-string catcher got his fourth straight start as designated hitter Tuesday and has five hits and a game-winning sacrifice fly in that span.

"He's a good athlete," Wedge said. "He puts up a tough AB, he runs pretty good, but the first thing that comes to mind is he puts up good ABs."

Tigers: Dirks heating up
In three games batting second, Andy Dirks has hit .462 (6-for-13) with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs. He took over the No. 2 spot on Sunday, when Brennan Boesch was dropped to eighth.

• Boesch, on the other hand, is not hitting well in his new home in the lineup, where he is 2-for-12 (.167) with one RBI.

• Alex Avila was missing behind the plate on Tuesday and said he won't be back until at least Thursday in Oakland. He is day to day with a sore left knee.

"It's one of those things where the area around my knee needs to be strengthened," Avila said, "and then I should be fine. ... I can't do anything more to it. It's just a pain-tolerance issue. It's not going to require surgery or anything like that."

Mariners: Beavan recovering
After being drilled in the elbow by a line drive and leaving his start on Monday, the status of Blake Beavan stands as uncertain. Beavan hopes to make his start on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, but it remains up in the air.

"It's more tender than anything," said Beavan. "I have a lot more range of motion. I can get my arm up to my chest. Last night, I could just barely raise it, and it hasn't even been 24 hours yet. So hopefully, with treatment, we'll speed up the process."

• Justin Smoak has gone 3-for-27 (.111) in his past eight games and is batting .175 on the season, but Wedge said the first baseman will not be benched.

"All I want him to do is slow down," Wedge said. "Just hit and put up good at-bats and let that define itself as it may. I trust enough in his ability and mindset that it'll work."

Worth noting
• In the previous three series, the Tigers were swept twice by the Mariners. Verlander's win Tuesday night ensured the club wouldn't suffer the same fate Wednesday.

Verlander's win was his first in Safeco Field since July 3, 2008. He had gone 0-3 since.

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