SEATTLE — Felix Hernandez matched his career high with 13 strikeouts in a brilliant five-hit complete game and John Jaso’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth scored Casper Wells to give the Seattle Mariners a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night. Hernandez (6-5) tossed his fifth career shutout and was one of the first ones out of the Mariners dugout after Wells’ belly-flop onto home plate. It was the third time in his career Hernandez struck out 13, the most recent coming on May 22, 2011 at San Diego.
Wells lined a one-out double off Scott Atchison (2-1) into the left-center field gap in the ninth. After an intentional walk, Jaso came on as a pinch-hitter. He lined the first pitch for Atchison into right field for a single and Wells was waved around from third.
The throw from Cody Ross beat Wells to the plate, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia lost the ball as he attempted to make the sweeping tag and Wells dived onto home plate for the only run.
Hernandez was brilliant for a third straight start in one of the finest performances of his career. It was his 19th career 10 strikeout game and the first time he’s ever struck out at least 10 in consecutive starts. The last Mariners pitcher to accomplish that was Freddy Garcia back in 1999.
The only time Hernandez was tested came in the ninth. It was quite the challenge.
Hernandez struck out Dustin Pedroia on a 3-2 pitch to open the ninth inning. David Ortiz responded with a line drive back up the middle on a hanging curveball that sent Hernandez sprawling to avoid the shot. He got ahead of Saltalamacchia 1-2, but missed on the edges and walked him on a 3-2 pitch, allowing a runner to second base for just the third time in the game.
Newly acquired Brent Lillibridge pinch-ran for Ortiz once the slugger reached second. Hernandez fell behind Gonzalez 3-0, but fought back to 3-2 before Gonzalez fouled off the next four pitches. On the ninth pitch, Gonzalez hit a shot to deep left-center that Michael Saunders chased down just before the wall. Will Middlebrooks then popped out and Hernandez was left waiting to see if the Mariners offense could get him a run.
Wells’ double came after Jesus Montero had weakly flied out to open the inning. Boston intentionally walked Justin Smoak to bring up Jaso, who led the team in game-winning RBIs. He jumped on the first pitch and Saltalamacchia appeared to have plenty of time to apply the tag, but reacted with disgust when he saw the ball on the ground.
Wells’ double and winning run capped a night where he was a star both at the plate and in the field. Boston batters tested Wells twice in the eighth inning.
He took away a hit from Mike Aviles with a sliding catch for the second out of the inning. Moments later, Wells was racing toward the left-field corner and made an even better backhanded sliding catch while crashing into the padded wall for the final out of the inning.
Aviles was the only batter in the Red Sox lineup that Hernandez did not strike out at least once.
Boston starter Franklin Morales was just as good as the more accomplished Hernandez. Making just his third start of the season, Morales gave up just two hits through six innings with only one of those leaving the infield.
Seattle finally threatened in the seventh when Smoak dropped a one-out single into center and Morales let loose with a wild pitch that advanced Smoak to second. But Morales got out the inning on an infield ground out. He gave up just three hits and striking out seven and walking just two. It was his longest start of the season after going five and six innings in his previous outings, but he left unable to get a decision.
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