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Mariners Host Twins On Saturday Afternoon At Safeco

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins, leaders of the AL Central, continue a three-game series against theSeattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Nick Blackburn will make his 20th start of the season for Minnesota this afternoon, and he will attempt to even his overall record at 8-8. Blackburn, who owns a 6.49 ERA, returned to the rotation on Monday and suffered a loss despite giving up just three runs over seven innings against Texas. That was his first quality start since June 12th.

In 28 2/3 career innings against the Mariners, Blackburn is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA.

Doug Fister will get the ball for Seattle in hopes of improving his 4-9 record. Judging by his 3.87 ERA, however, Fister has pitched better than the record indicates. He was a hard-luck loser on Monday when he permitted just two earned runs to the Red Sox in 6 1/3 innings.

Fister owns an 0-2 career mark versus Minnesota with a 4.97 ERA.

Joe Mauer had three hits with two RBI and Scott Baker pitched into the seventh inning yesterday, as the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins beat Seattle, 6-3.

Baker (12-9) gave up two runs on five hits and three walks to win his fifth straight decision.

Danny Valencia hit a two-run triple for Minnesota, which avoided a four-game sweep at Texas with a 6-4 victory Thursday. The Twins also remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Chicago in the division standings after the White Soxbeat the Yankees earlier Friday.

Chone Figgins knocked in a pair of runs for the Mariners, which returned home after splitting their season-high 12-game road trip. Jason Vargas (9-7) allowed five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits in six innings.

"I thought he made good pitches, and they just happened to put them in the right spot," Mariners manager Daren Brown said of Vargas.

Ichiro extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Minnesota improved to 19-9 versus AL West opponents.

The Twins acquired left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for cash or a player to be named later on Friday.

Minnesota has won five of its eight meetings with the Mariners this season.