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TB@SEA: King Felix strikes out 11 over seven innings

Seattle starter Felix Hernandez is virtually unhittable when he's on a winning streak. He might be an even bigger problem for hitters when he's coming off a loss.

The Tigers will find out on Sunday.

Hernandez was handed a defeat in his most recent outing, against the White Sox, after giving up two homers and five runs in the first three innings. He still pitched 6 2/3 innings, but fell to 6-5 on the season.

"I think he's throwing the ball well this year," said Mariners skipper Eric Wedge. "I'm still getting to learn a lot about Felix myself, but one thing is, he's very consistent. Even if he has a tough inning, he still bounces back and gets you deep and gives you a chance to win the ballgame. He's handled everything like a champion. He really has, whether it be something that happens behind him or us not scoring runs or some tough luck, whatever it might be, he's handled it like a champ."

Hernandez has been tough on the Tigers, going 7-0 with a 3.00 ERA over his past eight starts against Detroit since 2007, including a win on April 26 at Comerica Park.

For his career, Hernandez is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA at Comerica.

"For a young man, he's already established himself as kind of a warrior starting pitcher," Wedge said. "He wants to be out there and finish what he starts. We push him at times and pull him back at times and just try to pick our spots, because he is so special."

The right-hander leads the American League in strikeouts and will retake the lead for innings pitched from Justin Verlander if he goes 4 2/3 innings on Sunday. He's currently on pace to pitch 248 innings this year. He pitched an AL-high 249 2/3 frames last year.

The Tigers will counter with Rick Porcello, who is pitching well after losing his first two starts of the season. He is 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his past nine starts, though he 2-2 with a 6.23 ERA in four home starts this season.

Porcello is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA against the Mariners in his career. He gave up one earned run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings against Seattle on April 20.

Mariners: Cust to return on Sunday
Designated hitter Jack Cust will be back in the lineup on Sunday after sitting out three of the past four games. Franklin Gutierrez also will return in center field after a night off. Rookie Greg Halman started in center field on Saturday.

• Ichiro is three shy of 400 stolen bases in his big league career. He's also four shy of 600 stolen bases in his professional career, which includes the 199 bases he nabbed while playing in Japan.

Tigers: Lucky sevens for Alburquerque
Reliever Al Alburquerque has not allowed a run over his last seven outings, a span of seven innings. He struck out 14 batters over that span.

• Jhonny Peralta is batting .338 with eight doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 26 RBIs over his past 39 games, dating back to April 22.

Worth noting
• After starting his career against the Tigers by going 0-for-8 in his first three games, Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak has hit safely in each of his past seven games against Detroit.

• Seattle's Carlos Peguero is batting .375 (9-for-24) with nine runs, one double, one triple, three home runs, and five RBIs in his past eight games.

• As a part of their "Every Kid, Every Sunday" promotion and Sunday Kids Day, the Tigers will give away a special Max Scherzer bobblehead on Sunday.

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