SEATTLE — Francisco Liriano outdueled Felix Hernandez and the Minnesota Twins ended a nine-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
Liriano (3-5), who threw a no-hitter May 3 at the Chicago White Sox, was nearly as stingy. He allowed three singles, walked one and had a season-high nine strikeouts. Matt Capps got the final three outs for his sixth save in eight opportunities.
Hernandez (4-4) allowed three hits and two runs in eight innings. He walked three and struck out nine.
Hernandez couldn’t settle in early and it cost him. He opened the game by issuing a four-pitch walk to Denard Span. Matt Tolbert’s grounder forced Span at second. Then Hernandez walked Jason Kubel.
Justin Morneau bounced out to first, advancing both runners. Michael Cuddyer followed with an RBI single.
The Twins’ victory came on the day that one of the team’s greatest players, Harmon Killebrew, died at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home.
“I was very fortunate to have a pretty good relationship with him. I was able to have a bunch of talks and conversations with him,” Cuddyer said before the game. He was one of the closest players to the Hall of Famer. “It’s sad that end of his life is here but it’s easy to celebrate his life. That’s what we have to do now, celebrate his life with the fans and baseball.”
It was fitting that Cuddyer would be the offensive star for the Twins. He had two of the three hits yielded by Hernandez.
That first inning was the time the Twins needed to reach Hernandez. After that, he was back in his denied form.
Hernandez, who needed just six pitches to retire the side in both the second and sixth innings, finished strong. He allowed only one hit after one out in the fourth and struck out seven from the fifth through the eighth.
The Twins built some mild threats. In the fourth, they had runners on second and third with two outs but Hernandez struck out Rene Rivera. In the fifth with runners on first and second with one out, Hernandez induced Kubel to hit a one-hopper back to him. He turned it into a double play.
The Mariners, held to just one hit by Liriano through the first four innings, mounted a two-out rally in the first. Liriano started it by hitting Brendan Ryan in the leg. Michael Saunders singled to center as Ryan races to third on the hit-and-run. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a lazy RBI single to center.
Of the 41 games the Mariners have played, 21 have been decided by two runs or fewer. They are 7-9 in 1-run games.
The Twins have played 40 games. This was the 28th time they have scored three runs or fewer. They have won four of those games.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge argued a close play at second in the ninth and earned an ejection from umpire Jerry Meals.