- 142 wins
- 110 wins
SAN DIEGO -- Resurgent Mariners ace Felix Hernandez delivered his own run support on Saturday with a two-RBI double, and then shut down the Padres en route to a 5-1 win at Petco Park.
Hernandez allowed just one run -- that coming on a balk in the first inning -- on six hits, with 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak to San Diego, as Seattle improved to 31-42 overall, and 2-4 on its current Interleague road trip heading into Sunday's finale with the Padres.
"It was nice to finally get a win off these guys," said left fielder Michael Saunders, who aided the cause with a home run and a pair of runs. "Felix threw the ball like Felix can. Whenever he takes the mound, we feel like we've got a really good shot at getting a 'W' that day. It all starts with starting pitching, and he helped himself out [with the double]."
Hernandez's performance was a much-needed boost for a starting rotation that had gone 0-3 with an 11.17 ERA over the past four games.
Hernandez had endured his own recent rough patch. But after going 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA over a six-start stretch, he's now posted back-to-back gems against the Giants and Padres, allowing just two runs over 14 innings.
"It felt good," he said. "I have to be more consistent and get it going for the rest of the season."
Hernandez reached double-digit strikeouts for the 18th time in his career and second time this year (first since April 19) as he improved to 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in five career starts at Petco.
"Our starters have been struggling, and he's our guy, and we really needed him to step up tonight and he did," said manager Eric Wedge. "He was up a little at times, but controlled the damage. But when he was down, he was down really good.
"You're seeing a little more life on his fastball and that runs to his release point on his curveball, the slider, the changeup. All that helps him get out in front. And when he does that and is on the plate and down, he's about as good as it gets."
Hernandez has one start remaining -- on Thursday against the Red Sox at Safeco Field -- before the All-Star teams are unveiled on Sunday, July 1. On a team without a clear selection, he could help his cause with one more win, as he now stands 5-5 with a 3.36 ERA.
The 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner aided his own effort on Saturday by hitting the first pitch he'd seen all season down the right-field line in the second off of Padres right-hander Jason Marquis to cap a three-run second inning.
"I don't take anybody lightly," Marquis said. "I just left a sinker a little bit up, he stayed inside the ball and hit it down the first-base line. If that pitch is a little bit down the way I was trying to execute it, he hits it on the ground and it's a different result."
Hernandez is now 4-for-27 (.148) with seven RBIs in his career, the latter number bolstered by a grand slam he hit off of Johan Santana, four years ago to the day.
Saunders ripped a solo home run off the right-field foul pole with two outs in the third to extend the lead to 4-1. Saunders now has seven home runs and 21 RBIs on the road, compared to one homer and three RBIs at Safeco Field.
"I was begging for it to stay fair," said Saunders. "I was trying to blow it fair, praying for it, and heard the clink and saw it hit the foul pole."
Saunders also added two stolen bases. He's leading the Mariners with 12 steals, doubling his total from 2011.
"Michael Saunders is a complete player," Wedge said. "He can hit, he can throw, he can track it down in the outfield."
The Mariners added another run in the fourth when Dustin Ackley walked, stole second and scored on Ichiro Suzuki's single to make it 5-1. The Mariners stole four bases on the night.
Ichiro went 2-for-4 with a walk, and is 10-for-19 on the current road trip. Since getting the day off on Monday, he's raised his average from .255 to .273 in four games.
"Ichiro is turning it up, as far as I'm concerned," said Wedge. "I like what I'm seeing. He's a little more aggressive, early in the count, aggressive with pitches he feels he can drive and not just hit. That's what we've seen more of, and he's had more success. Hopefully we're seeing the start of him getting himself going, which would be a big lift for us."
Of course, Hernandez can now claim to be hitting .333 on the season, a mark that will stand as Seattle will be done with Interleague Play after Sunday. He was pinch-hit for in the eighth by John Jaso after the Mariners loaded the bases with two outs, but Jaso grounded out.
Wedge laughingly said he avoided eye contact with Hernandez, knowing he'd want to stay in and hit. But the pitcher had no issue with being relieved in that situation, having thrown 94 pitches.
"No, no, no. I just wanted to win today," Hernandez said. "I don't care about hitting, I just want to win the game."