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Angels Tab Santana To Do Battle With King Felix, Mariners

(Sports Network) - The Mariners aren't going to the playoffs, but that won't stop Felix Hernandez from trying to extend an incredible run this evening.

Hoping to build on his case for the American League's Cy Young Award, Hernandez will attempt to even Seattle's three-game series tonight with the hosting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Hernandez has yielded just one earned run over his last six starts, going 4-1 in that span with a 0.20 earned run average and hasn't allowed a run in each of his last two starts.

The right-hander hurled seven scoreless innings in a no-decision versus the Angels on Aug. 31, striking out eight with three hits and three walks, before besting the Indians on Sunday with eight frames of four-hit ball in which he fanned nine to up his season total to 209, two behind the Angels' Jered Weaver for the most in baseball.

"The guy's gone out there and dominated pretty much every team in the league and done it every fifth day, time after time. Pretty incredible season for him," said Russell Branyan after the Cleveland victory.

Poor run support might doom Hernandez's chances at the Cy Young as he is just 11-10 despite a 2.30 ERA that is tops in the AL. He is also just 0-2 with a 3.76 ERA in four starts versus the Angels this year.

Drawing the assignment for the Angels tonight is Ervin Santana, who can match his season career-high of 16 wins for the third time in his career. He first set the mark in 2006 and won another 16 games in '08.

Santana is 15-9 with a 4.02 ERA in 28 starts, winning two straight outings and seven of his last nine decisions. He defeated the Mariners on Aug. 30 after allowing two runs over 7 2/3 innings, improving to 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts versus Seattle this year.

The 27-year-old righty then made it two wins in a row on Sunday against Oakland, yielding three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and four walks over six innings.

Santana can pitch his club to a third straight victory tonight after Friday's 4-3 decision, made possible by Bobby Abreu's walk-off home run off Brian Sweeney in the 14th inning.

"I just wanted to make contact and get on base," Abreu said. "I was looking for a fastball down the middle and I made pretty good contact."

Jeff Mathis drove in two runs for the Angels, who were coming off a 4-3, 16- inning win over the Indians on Wednesday and won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 10-11, the final two contests of a three-game winning streak.

Weaver was solid over eight innings in the no-decision, allowing one run and striking out six to grab the league lead from Hernandez.

Fernando Rodney, who blew the save to lead to Wednesday's marathon, failed to hold the edge again last night, allowing RBI hits to Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman in the ninth inning.

Still, Seattle lost for the third time in four games.

"A tough loss. I'm proud of the way we battled back in the ninth inning," Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said. "We showed character but we didn't get a couple of hits that we needed."

Ichiro Suzuki went 1-for-6 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He is 16 hits away from extending his own major league record of consecutive 200-hit seasons to 10.

The Angels have won 13 of 17 over the Mariners this year and are 50-24 versus Seattle since the start of the 2007 season, going 25-11 at home in the series over that time.