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SEA@COL: Vargas hurls seven frames of three-run ball

Almost two months into the season, the Mariners and Angels will finally face off. And surprisingly, the American League West opponents enter the four-game series in similar territory.

Despite the fact the Angles boast a star-studded, experienced lineup and the Mariners a young and unproven one, both teams are working to climb out of the bottom of the standings. Although the pitching has been solid for both teams, it has been the hitting that has struggled to get going.

The Mariners entered Wednesday's game against the Rangers with a .233 team batting average, second worst in the AL, while the 162 runs scored by the Angels is also second worst in the AL.

"It's very clear what we need to do, and we have the potential to do it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've been getting terrific starting pitching. I think our bullpen is coming alive to where we need it to be. We've done a better job of holding leads. The issue is getting the leads. On the offensive side, I think we're getting some guys that are hopefully moving more towards what their games should be on the field, and that's going to be important to us to be the team we can be."

In the Angels' last five losses (a span of 10 games), they've combined for six runs. Part of the problem for the Mariners in scoring runs has been hitting with men in scoring position. In their recent three-game series with the Rangers, they went just 4-for-26 in those situations.

"Trading an out for a run I think is the biggest thing with runners in scoring position," second baseman Dustin Ackley said. "I think that's definitely something we've struggled with, but I think we're improving overall offensively, so I'm sure that will come around too."

Mariners: Vargas gets the start
• After failing to receive more than two runs of support in his previous four outings, Jason Vargas finally got some offensive backing in his last start in the form of 10 runs. After that 10-3 win over the Rockies on Saturday, Vargas improved his record to 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA.

Angels: Hunter will be eased back into lineup
• When Torii Hunter returns after dealing with a family issue, Scioscia says the outfielder won't be able to immediately jump back into the lineup.

"I don't think he's going to come in and be grossly out of shape from where he was, but I think you get back into the baseball-specific activities with higher intensity -- whether it's working out, throwing to bases, whatever he would have to do on the bases, in the workout," Scioscia said. "You're going to need some of that, and then ease your way back into playing."

• Dan Haren (1-5) takes the mound Thursday trying to find winning ways again, after losing four straight appearances. Since his only win of the season on April 28, Haren's ERA has ballooned from 3.34 to 4.37.

Worth noting
• Haren has faced the Mariners (19 times) more than any other Major League team in his career. The right-hander is 10-5 with a 2.60 ERA and 106 strikeouts lifetime against Seattle.

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