KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Felix Hernandez worked quickly in the rising heat.
He won his fourth straight decision, Jesus Montero homered and drove in four runs to help the Seattle Mariners beat the Kansas City Royals 6-1 Thursday.
The temperature was 98 at the first pitch and 105 by the time the game ended.
“I was not thinking about the heat,” Hernandez said. “I know it was hot. I just tried to throw strikes and get quick outs.
“I was not trying to pitch to contact, but just throw strikes,” Hernandez said. “It’s hot like 103, but I don’t feel it that much. I’m trying to get quick outs and get out of the inning.”
Hernandez (8-5) is 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his past seven starts since a loss to San Diego on June 12. While he leads the majors with 143 strikeouts, Hernandez struck out only three, tying his season low. He allowed one run and eight hits, throwing only 89 pitches in eight innings.
Hernandez worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth, striking out Alcides Escobar and retiring Billy Butler on a grounder.
“He got a lot of quick outs. He was strong again today, a lot of life at end of his pitches and he was down,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He really only had to work that last inning. That was big too. That game gets real close, real quick if one of those guys comes through. He really stepped up right there those last two hitters.”
Hernandez permitted four singles in the first two innings, but got double-play grounders in both to keep his pitch count down.
The Mariners jumped on Royals rookie left-hander Will Smith (1-3) for three runs in the second with Montero leading off the inning with his ninth home run. Michael Saunders had an RBI single and Brendan Ryan added a sacrifice fly.
“It was a bad pitch 1-2,” Smith said. “That’s supposed to be a pitcher’s count.”
The Mariners increased the lead to 4-0 in the fifth when Ichiro Suzuki doubled and scored on Montero’s single.
Montero had an RBI double off the left-field railing in the seventh inning and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to match his career high with four RBIs.
Hernandez’s streak of 19 2-3 scoreless innings ended in the fifth, which Eric Hosmer began with a double and scored on Chris Getz’s single.
Smith, just recalled from Triple-A Omaha, gave up four runs on eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, while walking two and striking out five.
The Mariners won three of four against the Royals, who have lost 13 of 17 games.
“I thought it was a great series overall,” Wedge said. “I loved the way we played, a total team effort. You talk about a vision the way you want your team to play and how you want to go out there and play major league baseball and this is about it. This is what we’re looking for.”
The Mariners faced a left-handed starting pitcher for the fifth straight game for the first time since July 23-28, 2009. .The Royals optioned RHP Vin Mazzaro to Triple-A Omaha. .C Jason Kendall, who has not played in nearly 23 months after having two shoulder operations, signed a minor league contract with the Royals and was assigned to their Double-A Northwest Arkansas affiliate. . RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who went on the disabled list July 1 with a mild elbow strain, threw a bullpen session Thursday and will pitch a simulated game this weekend when the Mariners are in Tampa Bay. .RHP Luke Hochevar will start Friday for the Royals in the series opener against Minnesota. RHP Nick Blackburn goes for the Twins.