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Mariners try to bounce back against Dodgers | Updated: 2018-08-18 15:50:12

It has reached the point in the season where the Seattle Mariners are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive with baling wire.

Sure, they got a boost this week from the return of eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano after his 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

And "King" Felix Hernandez showed flashes of his old self in the first relief appearance of his career, coming in after staff ace James Paxton was nailed on the left forearm by a line drive, necessitating a trip to the 10-day disabled list.

Dee Gordon started at shortstop Friday night, his third position of the week, because All-Star Jean Segura was placed on the paternity list before the series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"The thing with even sliding him into center field the other day, you don't try to overcoach or overanalyze it," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Just go out there and catch fly balls. Slide over to shortstop and catch a few ground balls. We'll put you in the right spot based on who is pitching and hitting and all that stuff. This guy is a tremendous athlete. That's one thing that doesn't go away, your athleticism. And we're going to try to take advantage of it."

When told he was needed at short in Segura's absence, Gordon had a simple response: "Cool."

More disturbing for the Mariners is the state of their starting rotation, which has been a strength this season.

With 12-game winner Marco Gonzales having his next start pushed back because he is 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA this month and has already eclipsed his career high with 142 2/3 innings, the Mariners are using three starters in this interleague series against the defending National League champion Dodgers who started the season in the minors -- left-hander Wade LeBlanc, right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and left-hander Roenis Elias.

It didn't start out well Friday in Seattle, as LeBlanc gave up seven runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings of an 11-1 defeat. The Dodgers hit five home runs, including two by Manny Machado.

"Obviously, the story was the offense," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Manny really had a big night, a couple of homers, and ... all throughout the lineup it was good."

Ramirez (0-2, 6.75 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday night against Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill (5-4, 3.57) at Safeco Field. Ramirez, who has spent two stints on the disabled list this season, will be making just his fourth start of 2018, although he did pitch five scoreless innings his most recent start in Houston on Sunday.

Ramirez will be making his first career start against the Dodgers. In his only previous appearance against them, he pitched two scoreless innings of relief in 2016 to get a victory.

Hill is 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 11 appearances against Seattle, including four starts. He has not faced the Mariners since 2016.

Things won't get any easier for the Mariners in the series finale Sunday as Elias (2-0, 2.88), who has been on the disabled list since July 31 with a left triceps strain, is expected to be activated to face three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.

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