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SEA@MIN: Elias snags Pinto's grounder, gets the out

The Mariners have racked up frequent flyer miles this month. In May alone, they have played in New York, Houston, Oakland, Minneapolis and Arlington, Texas.

The Mariners have played as many games on the road as any other team in Major League Baseball -- 27 of 45 games -- and escaped those road contests with a 14-13 record.

"If you compete on the road and win your share of games at home, you have a chance to be successful," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Ideally we'd like to play eight to 10 games over at home and somewhere around .500 on the road, or even better."

But after 12 road games and only six home contests this month, the Mariners are returning home to start a season-long 11-game homestand against the Astros Thursday night at Safeco Field.

In their limited time at home the Mariners are 8-10, but their pitchers are performing a little better than when they are away, putting up a 3.50 ERA at home compared to 3.61 on the road.

Rookie left-hander Roenis Elias will make his 10th start of the season -- but only his fourth at Safeco Field. In his last start, against the Twins in Minnesota, Elias surrendered a three-run homer to Brian Dozier, which cost the Mariners the game.

Despite the loss, McClendon thought Elias pitched well.

"Really, that wasn't a mistake," McClendon said. "It was a pretty darn good pitch that the guy hit out. I thought he threw exceptionally well. Elias is fine. He did great."

McClendon said he thinks the tough road schedule early in the season will help Elias and his teammates as the season goes on.

"I've been very pleased," McClendon said. "It's been a grueling schedule and a lot of it has been on the road. We've battled injuries. All in all, I like the grittiness of this club. I like their attitude. They believe they can win.

"I said it would take about 50 games and I think they're starting to round into shape a little bit. Do we have some challenges on offense? Yeah. We knew that coming out of Spring Training. But I still like where we are."

Mariners: LoMo, Paxton to begin rehab stints
Mariners outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison will test his injured left hamstring and left-handed starting pitcher James Paxton will toss a bullpen session Thursday when the team returns to Safeco Field.

If their tests go well, both players will begin rehab stints in Triple-A Tacoma before returning to the majors.

Morrison has been on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring since April 15. Despite the injury, he traveled with the team to Minnesota and Texas, where he ran, hit and worked out with the team.

Morrison, who the Mariners acquired from the Marlins for right-handed pitcher Carter Capps, has three hits in 20 at-bats in his limited time with the Mariners.

McClendon said Paxton, who last pitched on April 8, will likely begin his rehab assignment Sunday if his bullpen session goes well Thursday.

Before suffering a strained left lat muscle in his second start of the season, Paxton was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. Paxton pitched three innings in a simulated game in Texas on Tuesday and said he felt strong.

Astros: Cosart looks to continue streak
Astros starter Jarred Cosart (3-3, 4.41) is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in his last two starts after going six straight starts without a victory.

Cosart has succeeded against the Mariners in the past. In two starts, he has no decisions but has a 1.54 ERA, striking out seven but walking nine in 11 innings. His performance against the Mariners wasn't a rare wild streak -- in 109 Major League innings, Cosart has walked 59 batters while striking out 66.

The second-year right-hander said he has been working on his mechanics to try to reduce the amount of walks he has given up.

"I've been working on staying closed," Cosart said Wednesday. "I was flying off a lot of pitches my last time out."

Worth noting
• The Mariners and Astros have split their six games against each other this season. Since the Astros joined the AL West last year, the Mariners are 13-12 against them. However, the Astros have the advantage in Seattle, going 8-4 against the Mariners when Houston is on the road.

• Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano is hitting .462 (18 of 39) in his last 10 games. During that stretch, the first-year Mariner has one home run and eight RBIs while striking out only twice.

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