June 17, 2009 in Sports

Mariners’ Hernandez continues recent dominance

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Felix Hernandez, right, is congratulated by catcher Jamie Burke after pitching his third career shutout.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SAN DIEGO – When Felix Hernandez had his worst outing of the season in May, Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu had seen enough.

Wakamatsu had a heart-to-heart talk with his talented pitcher and the results since have been phenomenal.

Hernandez threw his fifth straight outstanding game as he tossed a two-hitter against San Diego on Tuesday night to lead the Mariners to a 5-0 win, handing the Padres a record 12th straight interleague loss.

Since allowing six runs and 11 hits in 52/3 innings in a 6-5 loss on May 19 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Hernandez has given up one earned run or less in five straight starts. Hernandez is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.72 in that stretch, having allowed just three runs in 372/3 innings.

“From that point on, I’ve seen a different pitcher,” Wakamatsu said.

Hernandez pitched with ease in shutting down the Padres for his third career shutout and sixth career complete game.

“I felt pretty good tonight,” Hernandez said. “All the pitches felt pretty good. I had great command.”

Franklin Gutierrez and Adrian Beltre each hit solo homers to provide the only offense Hernandez would need.

San Diego set a major-league record with its 12th straight loss in interleague play to snap a tie with the New York Mets. The Padres have lost four straight interleague games this season and last won in 2007. San Diego is 5-22 in interleague games since June 20, 2007.

Seattle won its ninth straight game at Petco Park but it was the Mariners’ first interleague win of the season after being swept over the weekend in a three-game set at Colorado.

Hernandez (7-3) allowed only a leadoff single to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the third inning and Tony Gwynn Jr.’s leadoff single in the ninth. Kouzmanoff got to third with two outs but Hernandez retired Luis Rodriguez on a fly ball.

“You could always tell he was going to be good,” Mariners catcher Jamie Burke said. “But he is starting to mature and you can see it in his pitching. He doesn’t seem like he’s 23.”

Hernandez struck out six, walked three and hit a batter against San Diego, which was shut out for the second straight game.

“He was ready to pitch, he was focused,” said Wakamatsu, who added he would have replaced Hernandez in the ninth if he had not retired Brian Giles on a two-out grounder with runners on first and second.

“I would have had to rip him off the mound,” Wakamatsu joked. When told of Wakamatsu’s remarks, Hernandez said, “Huh? Heck no, nope.”

During their 12-game interleague losing streak, the Padres have been outscored 77-28. San Diego, coming off a three-game sweep against the Angels, have lost 12 of 16 games overall.

“(Hernandez) was throwing four pitches for strikes,” San Diego’s Chase Headley said. “When a guy does that, it’s tough anyway. But when a guy who has above average stuff does it, it makes it even tougher.”

Kevin Correia (3-5) had won his previous two starts but the two home runs he allowed were too much to overcome. Gutierrez homered in the third and Beltre hit his home run in the seventh for the only two hits allowed by Correia.

“I threw a couple of mistakes to these two guys,” he said. “I just ran into a hot pitcher right now.”

The Padres have 11 more interleague games before facing an N.L. opponent on June 29.

Seattle added three runs in the ninth inning off Mike Adams, including a two-run single to center by Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Lopez’s sacrifice fly.

Notes

Griffey started in left field for the third straight game and it was only his seventh career appearance in left field in 2,570 games. … M’s first baseman Russell Branyan is expected to miss Thursday’s day game against San Diego to attend his grandfather’s funeral.

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