SEATTLE — Felix Hernandez wasn’t perfect. He was still dominant.
Hernandez allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings in the first start following his perfect game, Jesus Montero hit a three-run homer in Seattle’s four-run seventh inning, and the Mariners won their seventh straight beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Greeted by a crowd of more than 39,000, most of them in yellow shirts with the words “King of Perfection” honoring his perfect game, Hernandez (12-5) gave up a leadoff single to Jason Kipnis on a 0-2 pitch. He allowed seven hits and struck out five.
Cleveland starter Roberto Hernandez (0-2) didn’t allow a hit until Eric Thames’ homer with two outs in the fifth. John Jaso later broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double in the seventh and was followed by Montero’s 13th homer of the season.
Seattle has won 14 of 15 at home and Felix Hernandez improved to 8-0 with a 1.53 ERA over his last 13 starts. He left to a long ovation with two outs in the eighth after throwing 105 pitches.
Felix Hernandez talked earlier this week of needing to move on from his 27-up, 27-down gem last week against Tampa Bay, just the 23rd perfect game in major league history. It was hard to forget with 34,000 blinding yellow shirts handed out to fans. Seattle manager Eric Wedge said he felt it was a night to celebrate Hernandez’s accomplishment, but the ultimate goal was to keep Seattle’s winning streak going.
Every move Felix Hernandez made was accompanied by raucous applause, whether it was walking out to the bullpen for his pregame routine or when his name was announced as part of the starting lineup.
Any dream of a second straight gem was gone after just three pitches. Hernandez got ahead of Kipnis 0-2 on two fastballs, but a third-pitch curveball was dribbled through the infield and under the glove of diving first baseman Justin Smoak. He allowed two hits in the first along with Shin-Soo Choo’s broken-bat single, but got Carlos Santana to hit into a double play to get out of the inning.
Felix Hernandez later got Asdrubal Cabrera to hit into a double play to get out of the third and a tremendous diving catch by Trayvon Robinson to rob Casey Kotchman of extra bases in the fifth. Kotchman got even in the seventh when his double play ground ball took a bad hop over shortstop Brendan Ryan’s glove to score Santana and tie the game at 1. The Indians then botched a squeeze play with Michael Bradley getting tagged out in the rundown and Hernandez struck out Brett Lillibridge to end the inning.
It was the first run Felix Hernandez had allowed in 17 innings. He had retired 11 straight before Santana singled with one out in the seventh.
Seattle did nothing against Roberto Hernandez until the fifth inning when Thames drove a 0-1 pitch into the seats in right field for his sixth homer of the season and his second in as many games. The Mariners only other baserunner against the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona was Jaso’s walk in the second.
Michael Saunders started the seventh by walking on four pitches and Kyle Seager bounced a single through the right side to put runners at the corners with no outs. Jaso then doubled to deep left-center to score Saunders and knock Roberto Hernandez from the game. Montero greeted reliever Esmil Rogers with a 438-foot shot off the facade of the second-deck in left field.
Tuesday’s crowd of 39,204 was the third-largest of the season and just the 11th time in 62 home games the Mariners have drawn more than 30,000. … Cleveland RHP Josh Tomlin will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in Southern California. He will miss the rest of this season and likely much of 2013.