The Mariners are finally back in Seattle. The Angels, on the other hand, are just beginning a stretch in which they'll play 12 games in four cities.

Seattle, no doubt, doesn't have much sympathy for its American League West rivals, as the Mariners just completed a seven-game road trip to the Midwest. Now they're back at Safeco Field, where they'll play 15 of their next 18 games. Seattle manager Eric Wedge said the long homestand will be big for his club, especially the young pitchers.

"We've been grinding," Wedge said. "It's going to be good to get back home. We're getting into a regular stretch now with the off-days, which could be a separator for us.

"Just talking about the starting pitchers, with the exception of Felix [Hernandez], none of these kids have ever gone every fifth day like we've been doing. They haven't. And that's real, too. Whether [it's because they are] young or because of injury or lack of experience, you've got all of the above. It'll be nice to be able to give them an extra day, too."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he isn't overly concerned with the trip. Instead, he's more worried about how his team performs.

"It's on the schedule, so we play the games. It's not a matter of where or who we play, but how we play," Scioscia said. "We have a lot of things in-house to take care of without worrying about other teams."

The Angels have lost nine of their last 11 games, and know they'll have to turn it around quickly if they want to move out of third place. There's no better time to gain ground than against divisional opponents.

"We need to start taking care of business in our division," Torii Hunter said. "Seattle is tough, with all that pitching. We know what Figgy [Chone Figgins] can do when he gets it going, and Ichiro is Ichiro. You can't take anything for granted when you're facing Major League players. Anybody who gets to this level can play the game and deserves your respect."

Angels: Haren on the hill
• Right-hander Dan Haren (5-4, 2.41 ERA) makes his 14th start of the season Monday. He's won only one of his past nine starts and has received one run of support in three of his past four outings, going 0-2 in that span. The 30-year-old right-hander has allowed just one earned run in 23 innings against Seattle dating back to 2007 and is 3-1 with a 1.99 career ERA in six starts at Safeco Field.

• The Angels have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their last 11 games.

Mariners: Kennedy should return
• Adam Kennedy received the day off Sunday, but should be back in the lineup in Monday's series opener. The second baseman is hitting .282 with five home runs and 19 RBIs this season.

"I want to play him every day, but I have to stay ahead of him physically," Wedge said Sunday. "We were probably pushing him a little yesterday. You have to keep in mind, we're running toward the end of this 20-day stretch. Twenty days in a row at this level is real. There's a reason why they only allow you to do 20 days in a row."

Kennedy played seven seasons in Anaheim and still has friends on the club.

"A.K. is a gamer," said Howard Kendrick, Kennedy's successor at second base. "He taught me a lot about how to play second base and the mental aspect of the game. I owe him a lot. He's one of those guys who play the game the right way."

• Opposing Haren is Jason Vargas (4-3, 3.94), who is two games removed from a complete-game shutout against Tampa Bay. In his last start on June 8 against the White Sox, Vargas allowed three runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. He earned a victory against the Angels on May 18, throwing seven shutout innings.

Worth noting
• The Angels scored only one run in the two games in Seattle from May 18-19.

• Seattle is hitting .393 (9-for-23) with runners in scoring position in its last three games.

• Seattle's No. 9 hitters are batting .400 in the last nine games.

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