By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- The Seattle Mariners are inching closer to the .500 mark, and facing the slumping Minnesota Twins frequently sure has helped.
Seattle seeks an eighth straight win over Minnesota when the teams continue their four-game series Wednesday night at Target Field.
The Mariners (63-67) have won 10 of their last 13 games, with the only losses a three-game weekend sweep in Chicago where they held the lead at some point in each contest. They homered for the 11th straight game in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Twins (52-77), with Dustin Ackley hitting a three-run shot in the fifth inning.
Seattle has beaten league-worst Minnesota five times in the last 11 days and has won seven straight meetings overall.
"I think after we had a couple of those winning streaks and started hitting real well I think (getting to .500) was in everybody's mind," Ackley said. "I think the more we won the more we believed that we could do that."
While the Mariners have found their power stroke of late, the Twins haven't done much of anything offensively in the first two games of this series.
Minnesota, which has dropped 16 of 19, had five hits in Monday's 1-0 loss and mustered only four Tuesday. Justin Morneau's home run in Saturday's 9-3 loss at Texas is the only homer the Twins have hit in their last 11 games.
"We're just kind of floating around offensively," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've got guys who can hit, but they're not putting anything together and it's kind of frustrating right now for everyone involved. ... Right now we're inconsistent pretty much up and down the lineup."
The Mariners will now give the ball to Jason Vargas (13-8, 3.75 ERA) as they seek to keep the Minnesota lineup in a funk.
Vargas, though, is coming off his worst outing in more than two months after giving up six runs in four innings of Seattle's 9-8 loss to the White Sox on Friday. He surrendered three home runs - the same amount he'd allowed over his previous seven starts combined - while turning in his shortest start of the season
The left-hander, who had gone 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA over his previous nine outings, will look to recapture that form against a Twins team he's faced twice this season, giving up three runs over 13 innings but failing to earn a decision in either start.
He'll be opposed by Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno (4-2, 4.24), who also is looking to bounce back from a rough outing.
Deduno gave up career highs of seven runs and 11 hits in five innings of Friday's 8-0 loss to Texas. In his previous start, he walked a career-high six and allowed two runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to Seattle on Aug. 19.
Control has been an issue for the right-hander, who has walked 37 while striking out 30 in his nine starts.
Updated August 29, 2012