By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- The Seattle Mariners have had their issues lately but Jason Vargas' recent efforts haven't been one.
Vargas will try to produce another such outing while continuing his success against another struggling club, the Kansas City Royals, on Monday night.
Seattle (37-53) is batting .186 over its last 17 games and once again struggled to produce runs consistently this weekend. The Mariners recorded a 7-0 victory against Texas' All-Star right-hander Yu Darvish on Saturday but managed only five hits during a 4-0 defeat in Sunday's finale, their sixth in eight contests.
"(The players are) going through growing pains, but they're coming to the ballpark, they're playing with a lot of energy," manager Eric Wedge told the team's website. "They show up, they play hard and they work hard. It's going to pay off for them."
While his teammates have struggled lately, Vargas (8-7, 4.07 ERA) is 1-0 with a 1.52 ERA over his last three starts. He gave up a solo homer and scattered six singles in his sixth career complete game, a 7-1 win in Oakland on July 7.
"That was just a good, crisp ballgame," Wedge told the team's website. "Obviously, Jason set the tone."
Vargas is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in last two starts against the Royals (38-49), and gave up one run and four hits over six innings of a 4-1 win at Safeco Field on Sept. 8.
This time, he'll pitch opposite struggling left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (1-5, 6.75), who hasn't won since his season debut on April 8.
Sanchez gave up one run over five innings in his return from the disabled list (left biceps tendinitis) June 13 against Milwaukee, but is 0-3 with a 7.89 ERA in his last four starts. He gave up four runs, six hits and three walks over 5 2-3 frames during a 4-2 loss in Detroit on July 6.
"His strike-to-ball ratio (60 strikes, 41 balls) was better and his command was better," manager Ned Yost told the team's website. "He kept us in the game. It was something to build upon."
Sanchez will make his first start against the Mariners and will try to get some momentum going for a struggling Royals staff.
Kansas City has posted a 5.68 ERA during a 3-10 stretch and its starters have been even worse with a 7.36 ERA.
The Royals and Mariners have split their last 10 games at Kauffman Stadium but Kansas City won three of four during the most recent matchup there from April 14-17, 2011.
Billy Butler will try to help his team get this series started on a positive note by continuing his success against Vargas. The Royals' designated hitter is 4 for 8 with a home run versus the left-hander, and Jeff Francoeur is 4 for 9.
Updated July 15, 2012