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SEA@MIN: Felix pitches eight strong innings vs. Twins

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is seeking his third consecutive win following his longest outing of the month.

Hernandez, who last got the ball against the Twins on Sunday, pitched eight innings of two-run ball while striking out five and walking one and will try to follow that up against the Astros at Safeco Field Friday night.

"It was a good day," Hernandez said after improving to 5-1 this season. "I was down in the zone, throwing a lot of strikes. My one mistake, I left that slider up to [Trevor] Plouffe and he got the hit with two RBIs. It was off the plate, but he put a pretty good swing on it."

Hernandez's last win lowered his ERA to 2.94 and ended the Mariners' four-game losing streak.

Going into this start, the Mariners have won three of their last six after defeating the Astros, 3-1, in the first game of the series Thursday night.

Hernandez ranks second in the American League in innings pitched (67 1/3), eighth in WHIP (1.10) and seventh in strikeouts (65).

Opposing Hernandez will be Rudy Owens, who will be making his Major League debut. The lefty is taking the place of Brad Peacock, who was scratched with right forearm soreness.

Owens has appeared in 10 games (seven starts) at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was 2-3 with a 6.05 ERA. He last pitched on Saturday at Nashville, allowing eight earned runs in three innings. The southpaw missed most of last season after undergoing foot surgery.

Astros: Springer close to returning
Right fielder George Springer could return to the lineup Friday from a strained right hip flexor suffered in the ninth inning Wednesday in Anaheim.

"I want to help contribute no matter what," Springer said. "I like playing every day. I'm an everyday kind of guy. If I'm not playing, it's tough. If he needs me, I'll get ready to go out and just try to help."

Porter tends to err on the side of caution and give players an extra day when dealing with injuries.

"He's much better, but we decided to give him a day," Porter said. "The injury happened [Wednesday] night and it's not something you want to risk any further damage."

Mariners: LoMo beginning rehab assignment
Outfielder/designated hitter Logan Morrison, who has been on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring since mid-April, will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Friday, manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Morrison said he'll be the designated hitter for his first three rehab games, then transition to first base before hopefully getting called back up to the Major Leagues.

"It's no fun watching these guys go out and grind every day, and I want to help contribute somehow," Morrison said. "I feel like when I'm in the lineup we're a better team, whether it shows in the box score or not. I just want to be out there helping the team win."

In eight games this season, Morrison is 3-for-20 (.150 batting average).

Worth noting
• Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes returned from a bout of food poisoning after being scratched from the lineup Tuesday. Hoes went 0-for-2 with a walk Thursday.

• The Astros' 3-1 loss to the Mariners on Thursday was the 12th time Houston has been held to one run or none this season.

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