(SportsNetwork.com) - If the Seattle Mariners have any intention of reaching the postseason they are going to need Felix Hernandez to get back to being Felix Hernandez.
The former American League Cy Young Award winner goes after his first win in four starts and tries to lead the Mariners to a series win over the Oakland Athletics in the rubber match of a three-game set at O.co Coliseum.
Hernandez set a major league record earlier this season by going 16 straight starts with at least seven innings and allowing no more than two runs. However, since that streak he is 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA over his last three outings and is coming off a miserable showing his last time out.
The five-time All-Star gave up a career-high four home runs in a loss to the Washington Nationals last Friday and surrendered five runs and 10 hits in seven innings to fall to 13-5 on the year to go along with a 2.23 ERA.
"It was a tough day," Hernandez said. "I couldn't get out of the middle of the plate the first four innings. I was up and I got crushed. Everything was off."
Hernandez stands a great chance at finding the win column on Wednesday, as he is 9-2 with a 2.72 mark ERA in 17 outings in Oakland. He's 18-7 lifetime against the A's with a 2.63 ERA in 33 starts.
Oakland, meanwhile, will throw its own 13-game winner in left-hander Jon Lester, who is also winless in his last three starts. Lester lost to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday, as he gave up three runs (2 earned) and six hits in six innings, dropping him to 13-9 on the year with a 2.55 ERA.
In six starts since being acquired from Boston, he is 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA, 37 strikeouts and eight walks. He also hasn't allowed more than three runs in an outing since June 7.
Lester has always finished the season strong and is 21-9 with a 3.38 ERA in the final month of the regular season for his career.
That could be good news for an Oakland team that continues to struggle.
Seattle evened this series at a game apiece on Tuesday, as Kyle Seager hit a two-run home run to help the Mariners to a 6-5 win.
Austin Jackson had two hits and drove in two runs, while Endy Chavez also had a pair of RBI for the Mariners, who won for only the third time in their last eight games. James Paxton (5-1) got the win after allowing two runs on four hits over 7 2/3 innings.
"This young man's got greatness written all over him," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Paxton.
The Mariners are 1 1/2 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the race for the AL's second wild card spot.
Craig Gentry went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI with Sam Fuld, Brandon Moss and Adam Dunn each giving a pinch-hit RBI for the Athletics, who have lost five of their last six games. Sonny Gray (13-8) allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings to take the loss.
"I think he pitched better than his line shows," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin about Gray. "He didn't panic out there when guys got on base, they just put some good swings together."
Oakland remained 4 1/2 games back in the AL West of the Angels, who lost to Houston.
Seattle is 8-7 against Oakland this season.