SEATTLE -- The Mariners are riding their longest winning streak of the season, but they haven't been able to get much out of it -- besides confidence.
Before the five-game streak, the Mariners trailed the American League West-leading Rangers by 12 1/2 games, and that gap has widened since. On Seattle's off-day Monday, the club lost a half game and now sits 13 games back of Texas, which entered Wednesday's action on a nine-game win streak.
That's disappointing for a club that doesn't have an abundance of time to close the gap, but manager Don Wakamatsu said it hasn't been his focus.
"I don't think you have any control over that," he said. "What you care about is winning games and get the club moving in the right direction. We went through some struggles pitching-wise in the last couple of weeks, and all of a sudden we're back pitching the way we can. I feel awfully good about that."
Time off does Fister's shoulder some good
SEATTLE -- The Mariners have been on a tear from the mound lately, and they've done it without their team leader in ERA.
Doug Fister, tied for first in the American League with a 2.45 mark, has been out since June 1 with shoulder fatigue and will make his return Saturday against the Brewers. Fister has averaged just under seven innings and 100 pitches in 10 starts, and that longevity contributed to his troubles.
Fister said he hasn't changed his approach, but he does take more time to stretch and warm up to prevent further issues. After reflecting on the time off, the right-hander feels it was definitely the right move.
"Fortunately, we were all on the same page and everything got taken care of," Fister said. "It was definitely a blessing in disguise to go ahead and take myself out, take some time off and get healthy."
Manager Don Wakamatsu said Fister will be on a pitch count of about 85 in Milwaukee to ease him back into the rotation. That won't bother Fister, who's wary of the mechanical problems arm fatigue can cause to a delivery.
"When something's not working right, something else kicks in and takes over for it," he said. "There's always things that start aching or hurting when you're compensating. It's dangerous when you compensate too much."
Soccer nut Wilson amped over USA's win
SEATTLE -- Jack Wilson has had a long, successful career in baseball, and it's still his second-favorite sport.
The Mariners shortstop lists soccer as his true love, and he said he was a better striker than baseball player when he made the decision to pursue a career on the diamond -- a move he made in high school because there was more of a future in America's Pastime than the World's Game.
Wilson woke up for USA's match against Algeria on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. PT, and watched with his son from the lobby of his apartment building. Landon Donovan's goal in stoppage time for a 1-0 victory not only put the Americans through to the tournament's Round of 16 to face Ghana, but sent Wilson into a frenzy.
"It was awesome," Wilson said. "We played great, we just couldn't execute no matter how many open shots. To get it in stoppage time, we were going crazy. Everyone in the building probably heard us. We were the only two in there watching it, and then people were walking in to get coffee, and we were screaming and yelling and high-fiving. It was exciting."
Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith has supported Australia by draping his country's flag over his chair in recent weeks, but Wilson said none of his teammates have more than a passing interest in the sport.
That hasn't dampened his passion though. Wilson regularly attends matches to support Seattle's Major League Soccer franchise, Sounders FC, and he plans to be at the next World Cup.
"If I'm retired by the next one, I'll be wherever it's at," he said.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said second baseman Chone Figgins was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after a visit to the dentist upset his stomach. He was back starting at second base Wednesday against the Cubs. ... Cliff Lee set a club record in the first inning Wednesday by not issuing a walk in 29 consecutive frames -- surpassing Jamie Moyer's mark set back in 2002.
Mike McCall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.