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HOU@OAK: Peacock strikes out nine over seven strong

Brandon Maurer will attempt his best Felix Hernandez impersonation on Wednesday night when the Mariners and Astros square off for the final time in their first season as division rivals.

Hernandez, the Mariners' Cy Young Award candidate, was scratched because of an oblique injury, giving way to Maurer, a 23-year-old long reliever who will get the nod instead.

Maurer hasn't started a game since May 28 after he began the season in the Mariners' rotation. After some early struggles, he was sent to Triple-A Tacoma and has been working as a long reliever since making his return to the big league club in July.

"This has been the biggest year I've ever played to where I've learned about myself," Maurer said. "[I've] learned about pitching, learned about hitting from their standpoint, learned about what they're looking for and how their approach changes throughout the at-bat and throughout the game."

Maurer has faced the Astros once before -- his worst outing of the year. He surrendered six runs and seven hits in just two-thirds of an inning in his second start of the season on April 9.

Opposite Maurer will be Astros right-hander Brad Peacock, who is 3-1 in his past four starts. Peacock is coming off a nine-K effort against the A's last Thursday in which he tossed seven innings of two-run ball.

Peacock is just one piece in a quartet of Astros rookies who have been very impressive since just before the All-Star break. Beginning July 12, the four rookie starters (Peacock, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens) have combined for a 2.52 ERA in 25 starts.

Before the game on Wednesday, the Mariners will honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the 12th anniversary of the tragic day. Staff Sergeant Ty Carter, a Medal of Honor recipient, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and the ballpark will observe a moment of silence before the game gets under way.

Keith Taylor of the Marysville Fire Department will sing the national anthem and God Bless America.

Astros: Porter unsure of rotation
• Manager Bo Porter has yet to determine whether he will continue using a six-man rotation for the remainder of the season, now that Cosart has been shut down for the year.

"We're going to get through the off-day [Thursday] and make a decision whether or not we're going to stick with six or go to five," Porter said. "Clemens is going to throw [Tuesday], and we'll know more after he throws whether or not he's going to be able make his start."

Clemens was scratched from his start on Sunday because of a blister.

Mariners: Power arms in the 'pen
• The bullpen has combined to post 480 strikeouts this season. With punchout No. 477 on Tuesday night, the Mariners set a single-season franchise record for most Ks by a relief corps.

"When you look at the future arms in our bullpen, you've got to be pretty optimistic about it, because there's a lot of potential down there and they understand now what it means to have success," manager Eric Wedge said.

Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar have led the charge with 75 and 73 strikeouts, respectively.

Worth noting
• Kendrys Morales' next home run will be the 100th of his career, while Raul Ibanez is two long balls away from 300.

• With Tuesday's victory, the Astros jumped ahead in the all-time series between the two clubs, 14-13. Seattle leads the season series, 10-8.

• Brad Miller's 26 multihit games for the Mariners this season are the third most by an American League rookie this year.

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