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McClendon says club battling to end funk

In heated Wild Card race, Mariners eager to shake off rough start to 11-game trip

ANAHEIM -- Despite a three-game losing streak and just two wins in their last eight games during the most-crucial stretch of the season, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Tuesday his young club isn't pressing in the wake of Monday's 8-1 loss to the Angels to open an 11-game road trip.

The Mariners certainly could use some timely hitting as they've gone 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position in their last two games heading into Tuesday's battle with an Angels club whose magic number for clinching the American League West is down to three games.

Seattle entered the night two games back of the Royals for the final AL Wild Card spot, but McClendon said there's no cloud gathering over his club.

"They're not tight. They're just going through a funk," he said. "We just have to keep battling and fighting our way through it. The Oakland A's went through it and we didn't think a thing about it. We were happy about it. And I'm sure they're happy about our little funk. It happens. We just have to keep fighting and grinding it out, and we'll come around."

The Mariners were 71-91 last season and haven't been in the postseason since 2001, so they're in new territory heading into the final two weeks of the season with a playoff berth in sight.

"Given what Seattle was going through the last 10-12 years, if I'd have said leaving Spring Training that on Sept. 16 we'd be two games out of the Wild Card, would you take it?" McClendon said. "I don't think there's anybody associated with the Seattle Mariners who would have said, 'No, we don't want that.'

"You have to keep things in perspective and look at the big picture. My guys have had a fantastic run," he said. "We don't want to look back down that road because it was a little shaky at times, but we can see the finish line and we're going to keep charging ahead."

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who'll take the ball in Thursday's series finale against Jered Weaver, said the players are certainly in step with McClendon's belief that Monday was a bad game and it just needs to be forgotten as the focus shifts forward.

"We've got a good feeling," Hernandez said. "Yesterday we got killed, but today we're ready to play. We're fine. We just have to continue fighting and we'll be OK."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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