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TEX@SEA: King Felix strikes out seven over eight

Felix Hernandez didn't have much of an excuse for his struggles in back-to-back starts against the Indians and Yankees. The Seattle ace simply didn't have his best stuff during those outings, and he got hit for double-figure hits in each game.

After those starts, Hernandez went back to the drawing board. Whatever he changed, it worked.

Hernandez is coming off an eight-inning outing against the Rangers in which he allowed only one run on six hits as he prepares to face the Angels on Saturday.

"Everything went right," Hernandez said of his last start. "Before that start, the pitches were not there. Everything was flat, everything was up, and they took advantage of that. My last start went good, sinker was good, breaking ball was better and I was commanding the strike zone. That was the key right there."

Hernandez is 4-3 with a 2.80 ERA for the Mariners this season.

The Angels will counter with Jerome Williams in the third game of the four-game set. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.74 ERA, and he is a perfect 2-0 in his career against the Mariners.

Williams took the loss in his last outing at Oakland on Monday despite allowing only two runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Angels lost the game, 2-1.

"I've been happy," Williams said on his results this season. "I've been going out there, doing my job, keeping the guys in the hunt for a win, and that's all I can do out there."

Angels: Pujols starting to heat up
• Don't look now, but Angels slugger Albert Pujols is starting to look like the hitter he was in St. Louis.

Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract during the offseason, has homered in consecutive games after hitting a three-run shot Friday against the Mariners. The first baseman had only four home runs in the first 42 games of the season.

"We've seen it moving ahead, and I think he feels a little more comfortable in the batter's box," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "I like the way he's playing baseball. ... He studies his videos, understands where he needs to be. But I really think when a guy is hitting, it's an eternal feel and there are some mechanical things that can maybe get you back to finding that feel."

Pujols is hitting just .227 with 25 RBIs overall this season.

• Relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins threw off the mound for the first time Friday and is getting closer to a return. Hawkins has been on the disabled list since May 7 with a broken right pinkie.

Mariners: Hernandez enjoys King Court
• Like most pitchers, Hernandez likes starting at home. He feels comfortable at Safeco Field, and the fans like him there.

Hernandez's cheering section, King's Court, is expected to grow to four sections for Saturday's game, with special throwback T-shirts given out to King's Court members.

"It's awesome, it's a great feeling," Hernandez said of his cheering section. "When you're on the mound and there's two strikes and they start yelling, 'K, K, K,' it's unbelievable."

• Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is still dealing with the effects from the plantar fasciitis. He has been on the disabled list since early in Spring Training with a torn pectoral muscle, and he has spent the past few weeks recovering from a heel problem. He has taken batting practice and done some light running each of the past three days, and manager Eric Wedge said Gutierrez would be re-evaluated "at the end of this week."

Worth noting
• Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first Major League start as a leadoff hitter Friday night against the Angels.

• Angels leadoff hitter Mike Trout was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts Friday night, and he has only one hit in 18 at-bats over the past four games.

• Seattle's Justin Smoak went 2-for-4 and knocked in all four of the Mariners' runs in Friday night's game. Smoak had only 15 RBIs entering the game. Comments