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Nationals try to rebound in visit from Mariners

Jun 21, 2011 - 3:04 PM (Sports Network) - Though the Washington Nationals failed in their bid to record their longest winning streak since 2005 and get back to the .500 mark, they have to feel good about their chances of starting a new streak tonight if starter Livan Hernandez can turn back the clock again.

A visit from the Seattle Mariners could also help.

After having an eight-game win streak end on Sunday, Washington turns to Hernandez and aims for a seventh straight victory over Seattle tonight in the opener of a three-game set at Nationals Park.

Washington took the first two games of its weekend set with interleague rival Baltimore to run its win streak to eight in a row, its longest since Aug. 2-9, 2009. However, home runs from Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa couldn't extend the run on Sunday in a 7-4 loss after starter Tom Gorzelanny yielded five runs -- four earned -- over 4 2/3 innings in his return from elbow inflammation.

The Nationals also committed three errors in the loss.

"We put things together there for a couple weeks and just continued to play well," said Nats manager Jim Riggleman. "We certainly would have liked to have gotten out of there with another win and have the off day [Monday], but we'll just have to crank it back up."

Washington will look to get it going again behind Hernandez, who snapped an eight-start winless drought (0-6) with a win over the Cardinals on Wednesday. The 36-year-old hurled a three-hit shutout, striking out six without a walk to improve to 4-8 with a 3.77 earned run average thanks to his first win since April 28.

Hernandez hurled his first complete game of the season and 50th of his career.

"It was vintage Livan," Riggleman said after his right-hander's ninth career shutout. He was hitting his spots, had a good breaking ball, was changing speeds. He had it all going,"

Though Hernandez is just 1-2 in three career starts versus the Mariners, he does have a 2.82 ERA in those games and will also have recent history on his side. Washington hasn't lost to Seattle since a road setback on June 13, 2004, when the franchise was still located in Montreal, and has won each of the past six meetings since.

The Nats swept a three-game set from the Mariners in Washington back in 2005 -- the two clubs' lone meeting in the nation's capital -- then turned the trick again at Seattle in 2008.

The Mariners do come in with some momentum after Sunday's 2-0 victory over the Phillies in the rubber match of a three-game set gave them three wins in four games. Seattle sits one game back of Texas for first place in the American League West.

Jason Vargas did a nice impression of Hernandez, hurling a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory on Sunday. He walked two and fanned six, while retiring 16 of his final 17 batters faced.

"I think your focus has to be there a little bit more, not that it should go away when you're up five runs, but you're definitely more dialed in and focused on what you have to do," Vargas said on his mindset while throwing in close games.

Justin Smoak and Adam Kennedy drove in a run each for the Mariners, who are 5-1 versus the National League this year and will start Doug Fister in tonight's opener.

Fister has lost three straight starts, posting a 4.50 ERA over that span, and his latest defeat came on Tuesday versus the Angels. The right-hander was touched for four runs -- all in the first inning -- and seven hits for a second straight start, while hurling seven frames in a 4-0 setback.

"Doug struggled in the first," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Obviously, against [Angels starter Jered] Weaver you hate to spot them four runs early like that. But Doug Fister, he really dug deep and he threw the ball as we've seen him throw it those six innings after that."

The 27-year-old Fister fell to 3-8 with a 3.53 ERA in 14 starts this year and faces the Nats for the first time.

  • SEATTLE: 5

    Jun 21 10:07 PM

  • Wilson Ramos two-out, three-run Home Run (6) to left scored Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa to win the game.

    Mariners 5, Nationals 6  Bot 9, 2 OutsJun 21 10:06 PM

  • Jerry Hairston Jr. singled to center scoring Jayson Werth with two out. Runner on first and Michael Morse due up.

    Mariners 5, Nationals 2  Bot 9, 2 OutsJun 21 9:56 PM
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    lrbell Added 5 roots

    Mariners 5, Nationals 1  Top 8, 2 OutsJun 21 9:21 PM

  • Roger Bernadina singled to center scoring Ian Desmond with one out. On the play, Jayson Werth advances to third. Runners on first and third and Ryan Zimmerman due up.

    Mariners 5, Nationals 1  Bot 6, 1 OutJun 21 8:53 PM

  • Adam Kennedy singled to right scoring Brendan Ryan with none out. Runner on first and Justin Smoak due up.

    Mariners 5, Nationals 0  Top 5, 0 OutsJun 21 8:22 PM

  • Doug Fister singled to right scoring Franklin Gutierrez with one out. Runner on first and Ichiro Suzuki due up.

    Mariners 4, Nationals 0  Top 4, 1 OutJun 21 8:05 PM

  • Dustin Ackley grounded into a fielder's choice, first to short scoring Brendan Ryan with two out. Justin Smoak out at second. Runner on first and Carlos Peguero due up.

    Mariners 3, Nationals 0  Top 3, 2 OutsJun 21 7:45 PM

  • Dustin Ackley singled to right scoring Adam Kennedy with one out. On the play, Justin Smoak advances to third. Runners on first and third and Carlos Peguero due up.

    Mariners 2, Nationals 0  Top 1, 1 OutJun 21 7:18 PM

  • Adam Kennedy singled to center scoring Ichiro Suzuki with one out. Runner on first and Justin Smoak due up.

    Mariners 1, Nationals 0  Top 1, 1 OutJun 21 7:15 PM

  • SEATTLE: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Jun 21 7:08 PM
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    Mariners vs. NationalsJun 21 1:03 PM