Preview: Cardinals at Mariners

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[June 24, 2016]  The Seattle Mariners are below the .500 mark for the first time in two months and aim to halt a season-worst six-game losing streak when they open a three-game series against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. The Mariners have dropped 10 of their last 12 games and their decline continued Thursday when they lost 5-4 to the Detroit Tigers on a 10th-inning wild pitch.

Nelson Cruz smashed two of Seattle's four solo homers in the latest defeat that ended with Steve Cishek's bases-loaded wild pitch. Cruz appeared rejuvenated after getting Wednesday off following a 2-for-21 funk over the previous five games. The Cardinals opened an eight-game road excursion with a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs and the sudden turnaround followed a season-worst five-game losing streak. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina was hitless in 13 at-bats against the Cubs and is 1-for-20 over his last five games.

TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), ROOT (Seattle)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Carlos Martinez (7-5, 3.17 ERA) vs. Mariners LH Wade LeBlanc (NR)

Martinez is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA over his past four starts and his success comes after he lost five consecutive turns. He received a no-decision in his last outing despite blanking the Texas Rangers on four hits over seven innings. Martinez is 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and .192 batting average against in five road starts this season.

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LeBlanc was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday and is starting in place of injured Taijuan Walker. The 31-year-old was 7-2 with a 1.71 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo and is 21-33 with a 4.47 ERA in 107 major-league appearances (71 starts) with five different teams. "He's 31 years old, hes been out there before," Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters of a pitcher he was around in 2014 when both were part of the Los Angeles Angels' organization. "He knows the routine. He might not pitch well, but he wont go out there and panic."

WALK-OFFS

1. The Cardinals are playing in Seattle for the first time since 2002 when they were shut out twice while losing two of three games.

2. Seattle 3B Kyle Seager is 7-for-48 over the past 12 games - with four of the hits being homers.

3. St. Louis SS Aledmys Diaz was 6-for-11 with a homer in the sweep of the Cubs.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 5, Mariners 3

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