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King Felix takes mound versus Astros

( - Felix Hernandez eyes a third straight win on Friday when the Seattle Mariners continue a four-game series with the Houston Astros at Safeco Field.

Hernandez defeated Minnesota on Sunday, as he held the Twins to a pair of runs and seven hits over eight innings. He also struck out five and walked a batter and improved to 5-1 on the year to go along with a 2.94 ERA.

"It's always a confidence builder coming to the park when we know he's pitching. Typically we know that we don't have to put up too many runs to come out with a 'W,'" right fielder Michael Saunders said

Hernandez, though, has struggled in two starts (0-1) versus the Astros, giving up nine runs (4 earned) in 12 innings. He is 2-2 lifetime against them with a 2.40 ERA in five starts.

Houston, meanwhile, will counter with left-hander Rudy Owens, who will be making his big league debut. Owens takes the place of righty Brad Peacock, who was scratched with right forearm soreness.

The 26-year-old Owens becomes the third Astros rookie to make their major league debut as starter in the last three seasons, joining right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart and left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

Seattle drew first blood in this series on Thursday, as Saunders drove in the go-ahead runs with an infield hit in the seventh inning and the Mariners eked out a 3-1 win. Saunders and Stefen Romero both had two hits and Robinson Cano drove in a run for Seattle, which has won three of its last four.

Dominic Leone (1-0) earned his first career win after surrendering just one hit with two strikeouts across 1 2/3 frames in relief of starter Roenis Elias, who gave up a run on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 frames.

Jose Altuve went 2-for-4 with a home run as Houston dropped its third straight game. Jarred Cosart (3-4) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on five hits with four walks.

The Astros won two of three in Seattle back in April.

05/23 14:25:16 ET

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