May 22, 2011 in Sports

Felix dominates Padres as M’s complete sweep

Associated Press
 

SAN DIEGO — Felix Hernandez put a giant exclamation point on a rousing weekend for the Seattle Mariners.

Hernandez tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and the Mariners completed a three-game sweep with a 6-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

“I felt like he was throwing the ball as good as we’ve seen this year for a good portion of the game,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “He kind of had to grind through it the last couple of innings.”

Hernandez (5-4) allowed one run and six hits without a walk as the Mariners won their fifth straight. They held a commanding advantage over San Diego in runs (14-2) and hits (32-14) while striking out 35 Padres batters in the series.

“I don’t like to give credit to the opposing pitchers, but these guys threw well this weekend,” Padres manager Bud Black said.

The Mariners have allowed two runs or less in their last seven games. They held the Padres to six hits or fewer in each of the three games.

“It’s an amazing starting (staff),” Seattle catcher Miguel Olivo said. “We just need to put some runs on the board and we’ve been doing it and winning games.”

Hernandez, the reigning A.L. Cy Young Award winner, kept up the stingy pace. He gave up three singles in the seventh for San Diego’s only run, but struck out seven of nine batters during one stretch from the second through the fourth.

“We’ve been doing a great job, and not just the pitchers,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been busting it and working hard.”

The right-hander did not walk a batter as he snapped a two-start skid. Hernandez improved his interleague record to 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 20 career starts.

“He’s been doing great,” Olivo said. “He was very consistent with the changeup and the slider. He throws good every day, but (Sunday) he was more consistent.”

Hernandez also struck out 13 last Aug. 10 against Oakland. He has fanned 10 or more batters 11 times in his career.

“He was good, no doubt about it,” Black said. “He had all his weapons and when you stake him a lead, I think he gets stronger. He’s a front-runner.”

Seattle starting pitchers have gone at least seven innings in nine straight starts and in 14 of 17 games this month. In the last seven games, the starters have allowed only four earned runs.

“It’s been outstanding the way these guys have passed the torch to the next guy for the next start to keep it going,” Wedge said. “Their focus and preparation have been outstanding.”

Carlos Peguero and Brendan Ryan each had a two-run double to pace a Mariners offense that came into the game with A.L.’s lowest batting average and the second-fewest runs in the majors.

“I feel like it was one of our better games in regards to getting good at-bats,” Wedge said. “We left a lot of runners on early but it kept the heat on.”

San Diego has lost four of five on its eight-game homestand. During that stretch, the Padres have scored five runs on 29 hits with 52 strikeouts.

The loss dropped San Diego’s home record to 8-18, worst in the N.L. The Padres have lost 14 of 17 to Seattle at Petco Park.

Tim Stauffer (0-3) gave up three runs and a season-high 10 hits, including Peguero’s two-run double in the third, over six innings. The damage could have been worse, but Stauffer stranded nine runners in the first five innings.

Corey Luebke started the seventh and gave up consecutive singles to Adam Kennedy and Olivo. Ryan then greeted reliever Luke Gregerson with a one-out double to drive in two runs and give Seattle a 5-0 lead.

Olivo had three of Seattle’s 15 hits and scored three runs. Franklin Gutierrez added an RBI single in the ninth.

San Diego’s only run came after a leadoff single by Chase Headley in the seventh. With one out, Cameron Maybin singled and Chris Denorfia’s two-out singled scored Headley.

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