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Millwood fans eight over seven innings

Having lost five straight games with their offense struggling, the last place the Cleveland Indians need to head is pitcher-friendly Safeco Field to take on the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners have won five straight in Seattle and 12 of their last 13 there, helping the team garner the second-best home record since the All-Star break. They hope to build on that further when they host the Indians in the first game of a three-game set Monday.

Seattle has relied heavily on its pitching during its hot streak, allowing eight runs in the stretch. Manager Eric Wedge said a big part of the stretch has been improved offense and plate discipline as well.

"Offense, I think, has been better, but we're still not to the point where we need to be just yet, but that's OK," Wedge said. "For me, it's not just end results."

Kevin Millwood will head to the mound for Wedge's Mariners. He didn't factor into the decision on Wednesday after Seattle rallied in the ninth inning against Tampa Bay thanks in large part to an error by Rays first baseman Carlos Pena. Millwood still pitched well, allowing just a pair of runs in seven innings on eight hits and a walk to go with eight strikeouts.

"He had to work," Wedge said. "He had to work in multiple innings, but I've talked to you guys about that before, he's the best that I've ever seen in regard to working out of trouble and managing situations and executing pitches, especially when things get a little thick out there."

Ubaldo Jimenez will get the nod for the Indians on Monday and is looking for a win after earning just one in his past seven starts. On Thursday, he lasted only four innings against the Angels, allowing eight runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts in his 12th loss on the year.

Indians: Acta pleased with Brantley
After injuries to Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, the middle of the Cleveland lineup was left with a void, and manager Manny Acta decided to turn to center fielder Michael Brantley to fill the hole in the fifth spot.

Brantley has been one of the squad's more consistent hitters this year, with a .294 average and 52 RBIs, and Acta is pleased that Brantley hasn't tried to adjust his swing since moving to the middle of the lineup, a spot typically reserved for power hitters.

"We knew he wasn't going to change his swing," Acta said. "He's a very smart kid, very fundamentally sound, mature beyond his age. He knows not only how to handle himself but he has baseball knowledge. He comes from a baseball background. He's a coach's dream."

Brantley went 1-for-4 Sunday against Oakland.

Mariners: Smoak returns on hot streak
By the middle of July, first baseman Justin Smoak had been struggling so much that Seattle thought it would be best to send him down to Triple-A Tacoma.

After 20 games and nearly a month with the Rainiers, Smoak compiled a .242 average with seven of his 16 hits going for extra bases. The stint in the Minors seemed to benefit him as Smoak is 5-for-16 since returning.

"You figure out something that you feel works and try to stick with it," Smoak said. "That's something that in the past, things will be going well and I'll be trying to do too much and things started to hit the fan. You've got to be a good hitter before you can hit home runs. That's something that I'm trying to do now -- keep it simple and not try to do too much."

Smoak went 1-for-3 with a walk in a win over the Twins on Sunday.

Worth noting:
• Cleveland leads the season series 4-1 and has outscored Seattle 27-21.

• The Mariners have allowed eight runs in their five-game winning streak.

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