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Miserable May continues

Sun., May 23, 2010, 9:49 p.m.

Felix loses fourth straight as Padres pound Mariners

SEATTLE – Things have become so dire for the Seattle Mariners that even a start by Felix Hernandez no longer provides a ray of hope.

Seattle’s ace pitcher suffered yet another loss, and the Mariners’ miserable May continued with an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.

Hernandez pitched well enough, allowing just two earned runs and striking out six in seven innings. However, he was let down by his offense and his bullpen as the Mariners fell apart late.

Hernandez has now lost four straight decisions, and the Mariners have lost in each of Hernandez’s past six starts. A Cy Young Award candidate last season, Hernandez has now gone more than a month since his last victory, a complete-game effort in a 4-1 victory at Baltimore on Apr. 21.

“I’m just going to go out there and do my job, that’s all I have to do,” Hernandez said, deflecting questions about whether he’s feeling any pressure. “If we score runs, it’s good, but I just want to do my job.”

Hernandez was never in a position to win because of what’s become an all-too-familiar refrain for the Mariners: a lack of offense.

Seattle managed just five hits against San Diego starter Mat Latos and three relievers. From the time the Padres scored in the top of the first inning Seattle was in trouble.

The Mariners entertained thoughts of a possible comeback in the seventh when, trailing 3-0, they put runners on second and third with nobody out. However, Seattle managed to plate just one run, and San Diego erupted for five in the top of the eighth after Hernandez gave way to the bullpen.

“We had a good ballgame going until the seventh inning,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “You sit around for the offense for six innings and you don’t get much from it. … We just can’t seem to get anything going consistently, or back to back. Guys come up with a hit here and there, but we can’t seem to string anything together.”

Seattle is now a paltry 5-16 this month, the worst May record in the majors. The Mariners also failed to take advantage of a team they’ve regained their health against in the past. Seattle came into Sunday having won 10 of its past 13 and 19 of its past 26 against San Diego.

Instead Seattle dropped two of three against the Padres. The Mariners haven’t won a series since April 26-28 when they took two of three at Kansas City.

At least Hernandez seemed to right his ship. Hernandez has not been his usual dominant self lately, struggling in three of his past four starts. Though he allowed three runs Sunday, the Padres hardly lit the right-hander up. The three runs he gave up were driven in by a pair of broken-bat singles and a weak groundout. He also walked just one after issuing a combined 12 free passes in those previous four starts.

Seattle’s offensive woes were most evident during the decisive stretch between the seventh and eighth innings. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh, the Mariners got a walk from Ken Griffey Jr. and a double off the right-center wall from Matt Tuiasosopo to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Rob Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly, making it 3-1.

From there the rally fizzled as San Diego reliever Luke Gregerson induced Josh Wilson into a pop-up, then struck out Ichiro Suzuki to end the threat.

San Diego then erupted for five runs against Seattle’s bullpen in the top of the eighth. Jesus Colome relieved Hernandez and proceeded to load the bases on two singles and a walk. Kanekoa Texeira was then summoned to deal with a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam, but he was greeted by back-to-back two-run doubles by Chris Denorfia and Nick Hundley.

Hundley’s double prompted a mass exodus by the 33,315 fans who turned out for Little League Day.

Latos continued his strong stretch of pitching for the Padres.

The 22-year-old right-hander turned in his fourth consecutive quality start, allowing one run on four hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out five.


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