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Noesi fans seven over eight solid innings

As they have struggled to keep pace in their respective divisions, the Mariners and Padres have been plagued by one puzzling problem: They simply can't hit at home.

The Mariners (27th) and Padres (28th) are the unfortunate owners of two of the Majors' worst four batting averages at home.

If Seattle is to buck the trend when the clubs square off on Wednesday at Safeco Field, it will have to do so against Jason Marquis, who will be making just his second start for the Padres since joining the organization on May 29. Marquis threw six innings and yielded just two earned runs against the Giants Thursday. A National Leaguer for most of his 13-year Major League career, Marquis has only made five career starts against the Mariners, though one of them was his first big league win in 2008.

Marquis -- who was let go by Minnesota in May after struggling in seven starts with the Twins, including a May 5 loss against the Mariners -- believes his Padres debut was a good step toward more consistency the rest of the way.

"I think it went pretty good," Marquis said. "I made a few mistakes, but for the most part I settled in and got in a groove and feel a lot better now than I did a month ago. I'm gonna keep working to get better and get more comfortable out on the mound."

The Padres' offense, which operates to an average nearly 30 points higher on the road than it does at home, will look to prolong the struggles of Mariners starter Hector Noesi. Noesi, a part of the deal that brought catcher Jesus Montero to the Seattle, didn't escape the fifth inning in either of his last two starts. Much of his trouble has come from the home run, as the first-year starter has yielded six round-trippers in his past three starts, four of them on 0-2 counts.

"He's very aware of it. He's working on it on the side," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "It's just about being even more aggressive with two strikes -- aggressively throwing the ball out of the zone when you want to, vs. trying to place it. Because that just leaves more room for error, and that's where he's had trouble."

But Wedge knows Noesi will have to fix more than just physical mistakes if he hopes to reverse his fortunes Wednesday -- the 25-year old has to hone his mental game as well.

"It's always a fine line," Wedge said. "It's being confident when you're ahead in the count to throw the ball out of the zone where you want it."

If Noesi hopes to reestablish that confidence in 0-2 counts, Wednesday may be his best opportunity, as the symmetry between the Mariners' and Padres' offensive struggles extends to two-strike counts. Fortunately for Noesi, the only team worse than his Mariners (.062) in those situations is the Padres, who head into Wednesday's contest with an .094 batting average when down 0-2.

Padres: Cabrera carving out a spot
Everth Cabrera is quickly establishing himself as a reliable force. Cabrera, who has started 23 of the Padres' last 24 games since being recalled from Triple-A Tucson on May 17, has played 19 of those games at shortstop and made just one error in 87 chances.

After starting out 0-for-19 since that May callup, Cabrera has also started to solidify his place in San Diego's offense. He is 22-for-62 (.355) in his last 18 games, a stretch that saw him hit the Padres' first inside-the-park home run since 2010. Cabrera stole three bases on Tuesday and is 8-for-8 in attempted swipes in the big leagues after going 15-for-15 with Tucson.

Mariners: Saunders sizzling
Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders continued his hot hitting on Tuesday night, going 3-for-4 with a stolen base and homer in a 5-4 loss to the Padres. Saunders, who has started 57 of Seattle's 63 games this season, is hitting .451 (23-for-51) over his last 12 games. A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Saunders has three homers and seven doubles -- one of each on Tuesday night -- in that stretch.

Saunders has been a presence defensively as well. The 25-year-old is tied with Ichiro Suzuki for the team lead in outfield assists with three. In his fourth season with the Mariners, the Tallahassee Community College product is just five hits away from his career high. He has already set a personal single-season mark in stolen bases, picking up his 10th on Tuesday.

Worth noting
• The Padres have not won back-to-back games since May 19-20, when they beat Nationals in Washington before flying home to beat the Dodgers. San Diego has not won three games in a row this season.

• With his two hits Tuesday, Ichiro now has 2,496 in his first 1,811 games. According to Elias, he is on pace to reach 2,500 in the fourth-fewest games of all players debuting since 1900. Comments