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WSH@SD: Cashner hurls six scoreless in return from DL

If you like electric arms, then the Padres-Mariners game Wednesday at Petco Park certainly fits the bill.

Seattle's Felix Hernandez takes on San Diego's Andrew Cashner in a matchup of two Opening Day starters.

Cashner (2-6, 2.47 ERA) has had mixed results since coming off the disabled list earlier this month after missing five weeks with soreness in his right elbow. He tossed six scoreless innings against the Nationals on June 7, then allowed four runs over six innings against the Mets on Friday.

"I felt good," said Cashner after the Mets game. "I thought I came out executing early, and I just kind of lost my command through the second to the fifth. The ball kind of got flat a little bit and [I] couldn't stop the two-out hits."

It's been tough for teams to barrel up a lot of balls against Cashner in 2014. Opponents are hitting just .235 against him.

Hernandez is difficult to make contact against, period, especially at Petco Park, where he's 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 50 strikeouts in six career starts. This season, the 28-year-old is right in the mix as a frontrunner for the American League Cy Young Award. Hernandez dominated in his two most recent starts, yet didn't get a win in either one because the Mariners' offense floundered.

On June 8 at Tampa Bay, the right-hander threw seven scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 15, but he got a no-decision after exiting the scoreless game. The Mariners went on to win, 5-0.

In his last start, he nearly went the distance against Texas, throwing 8 1/3 innings before closer Fernando Rodney allowed an inherited run to score, which sent Hernandez and the Mariners to a 1-0 loss.

"I know we've swung the bats pretty decent for Felix this year. Tonight was a tough night," manager Lloyd McClendon said after Hernandez dropped to 8-2, but lowered his ERA to 2.29. "There have been nights where we've scored runs for him too."

The Padres will have a brief tribute to Hall of Famer and San Diego legend Tony Gwynn before the game. Gwynn, 54, died early Monday after battling salivary gland cancer.

Padres: Bullpen lockdown
Entering Tuesday, the Padres were one of two teams in Major League Baseball to have not lost a game when leading after seven innings (19-0) joining the Marlins (24-0). The Padres are one of two teams in Major League Baseball to have a perfect record when leading after eight innings (22-0), joining the Red Sox (25-0).

This season, San Diego's bullpen owns a 2.57 ERA and limited opponents to a .208 average, the second-lowest ERA in the Majors and third-lowest in the National League. The pitching staff owns a 2.71 ERA in the seventh inning or later, the second-best mark in the Majors, trailing the Nationals (2.48).

Closer Huston Street ranks tied for seventh in the Majors and sixth in the NL with 18 saves this season. He's one of two qualifying closers this season with a perfect save percentage, along with Koji Uehara of the Red Sox.

Mariners: Saunders, Smoak, Hart headed to Tacoma
Seattle's offense could be back to full strength by the end of June.

First baseman Justin Smoak (strained left quad), designated hitter Corey Hart (strained left hamstring) and right fielder Michael Saunders (right shoulder inflammation) won't travel on the upcoming five-game road trip to San Diego and Kansas City. Instead, they'll head to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday and continue working out. All are expected to begin rehab assignments by the end of the week.

Smoak, who is tentatively scheduled to play for the Rainiers on Wednesday, is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on June 25 while Saunders is eligible to come off the DL on June 26.

Hart has been eligible to return since June 3, but he said he could be in the Rainiers' lineup Saturday. The right-handed-hitting slugger ran on Monday and isn't quite back to 100 percent after straining his hamstring in mid-May at Minnesota's Target Field.

Hart said his goal is to play four-to-six games with the Rainiers, then return to the Mariners by the end of the month. Prior to his injury, he hit .209 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 37 games.

"The biggest thing is to just get in there and get some live at-bats again," Hart said. "I don't think it'll take too long. ... I don't want to be down there for a month."

Worth noting:
• After losing five games in a row, the Mariners have won three straight. On Tuesday, they swept the Padres in a two-game series with a 6-1 win at Safeco Field.

• Since Interleague Play began in 1997, the Mariners entered Tuesday with a 3.65 ERA in such games, the best mark in the Majors.

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