SEATTLE, Wash. -

Drew Smyly couldn't get the job done for the Detroit Tigers (31-21) Saturday night as the Seattle Mariners (27-28) evened up the three-game series with a 3-2 win.

Smyly posted an unusual stat line against the Mariners, surrendering just three runs and one walk but throwing 105 pitches through four bumpy innings. Brad Ausmus got four strong innings from his bullpen, but hopes that Max Scherzer can pitch deeper into the rubber match on Sunday as the Tigers look to return home with a series victory.

Scherzer is battling his worst stretch as a starting pitcher since May 2011, when the righty allowed seven earned runs in back-to-back starts to end the month. Three years later, the defending Cy Young Award winner has allowed 12 runs in his last two starts and watched his ERA grow from 1.83 to 3.00.

Sunday offers Scherzer a golden opportunity to turn things around against a Seattle team that bats .167 against him with 17 strikeouts and only 11 hits. Only one player on the Mariner roster has hit a home run against Scherzer: Robinson Cano, who has two hits in 13 lifetime at-bats against the 29-year-old and has yet to play in the series.

The Mariners will send out young left-hander Roenis Elias to oppose Scherzer. Elias has struggled in his last four starts, allowing 13 earned runs in 23 1/3 innings and failing to record a quality start. The 25-year-old is 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA in his first Major League season and has never faced a Tiger hitter.

Saturday night's loss put the Tigers one game behind the Oakland Athletics in the race for the top record in the American League, but they maintained their 5.5-game lead in the AL Central Division.

A win on Sunday would polish off a 4-3 West Coast trip for the team before returning to Detroit. The Tigers will enjoy their first day off since May 15 on Monday before starting a six-game home stand on Tuesday night.