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MIN@SEA: Harang gives the Mariners a solid start

Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang makes the first start of his career at Camden Yards as the Mariners open a three-game series in Baltimore. He'll do so against an Orioles offense that is just beginning to break out of a slump.

The birds broke out of a 16-inning scoreless streak on Thursday, winning 6-3. Still, Baltimore has been shut out in two of its last four games after failing to score in just three of 105 games to begin the year.

"You want to make it stop yesterday," manager Buck Showalter said. "We haven't been swinging the bats very well and there's just so many times you can give credit to the pitchers on the other teams. They are pitching well, but it's something our guys are very aware of."

Harang said he's thrown bullpen sessions and watched games at Camden Yards, but has yet to pitch in a game there. It's one of the few parks left on his list after 12 seasons in the Majors. Ten of those seasons have been in the National League and Harang says he feels like he's starting to adjust to the American League now after 17 starts in Seattle, where he's 5-9 with a 4.89 ERA.

The 35-year old has pitched very well in his two outings since the All-Star break, allowing just two runs and seven hits in 12 innings against the Indians and Twins.

"It's funny because everybody talks about how there's an adjustment period when you come over from the National League to the American League," the right-hander said. "I can't really explain what it is, but there does seem to be something and I feel like I'm getting over that and getting more comfortable.

If Harang can't keep the potent Baltimore lineup at bay, Seattle will have a tough time scoring enough runs to win the game. First-year All-Star Chris Tillman(13-3) will take the mound for the Orioles, coming off a dominant performance against the Red Sox in which he allowed just two hits over eight innings.

Tillman has been sharp at home, boasting a 3.23 ERA at Camden Yards.

Mariners: Morse and Ibanez back in the lineup
Acting manager Robby Thompson gave outfielders Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez the day off in Thursday's series finale in Boston, but both likely will be back in on Friday.

Thompson wanted to give Morse a day off after he played two games in a row after coming off the disabled list with a strained quadriceps, while Ibanez has been playing a lot for a 41-year-old and went 15 innings on Wednesday.

"He said he felt great and was ready to go. But I think the smart thing was to give him a day," Thompson said. "We're going to get in late tonight [in Baltimore] and he'll be back in there tomorrow. But we have to be smart with him."

• Thompson also said Humberto Quintero would be back at catcher on Friday after Henry Blanco started Thursday as he continues to rotate the two veteran backstops with Mike Zunino on the disabled list.

Blanco gave the Mariners a huge lift on Thursday, hitting a grand slam in the 8-7 loss to the Red Sox.

Orioles: Still finding their level
Manager Buck Showalter said that Baltimore is a much better team than it has shown over a recent stretch in which the Orioles have gone 3-6. He said that he expects the club to win more games as it resumes playing its natural quality of play.

"I'm a big believer that sooner or later, over a long season, you seek your level," Showalter said. "I think our level is a lot better than it's been here recently. I don't get frustrated with them, I get frustrated for them because I know how much time and work they're putting in."

Worth noting
• The Mariners have lost their past two games to the Red Sox in walk-off fashion. After losing 5-4 in 15 innings on Wednesday, Seattle allowed six runs in the ninth inning.

• The Orioles are 18-9 (.667) against the AL West, their second-best record against the west (32-12 in 1997) since each league went to three divisions in 1994.

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