Felix turns in solid outing against Royals

Opening Day starter bounces back to allow one run in six innings

Felix turns in solid outing against Royals

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez threw six strong innings while allowing just two hits and one run Thursday, but Royals veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was even better with 5 2/3 scoreless frames in a 3-0 Cactus League pitchers' duel, won by Kansas City, at Peoria Stadium.

Guthrie, making just his second Cactus League start after missing one turn with a stomach virus, didn't allow a baserunner until Nelson Cruz singled leading off the fifth. Seattle's only other hit off Guthrie was a single by Shawn O'Malley in the sixth.

"That went pretty well," said Guthrie, 35, who will begin the season as the Royals' fifth starter. "I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. I kept the ball down for the most part, too."

Guthrie is expected to make one more start in Arizona next week, then have another throwing session when the Royals travel to Houston for the final two exhibition games.

The Royals nicked Hernandez for a run in the third when Christian Colon laced a leadoff double down the left-field line, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Jarrod Dyson's sacrifice fly to center.

Hernandez, who'll be making his club-record eighth Opening Day start April 6, bounced back strongly from a rare rough outing in which he gave up six hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Cubs last Saturday. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter in his 65-pitch outing.

"Good command, good pitches," Hernandez said. "I was trying to throw zeros. The changeup was nice, the slider was good, the fastball was unbelievable. I was finding the strike zone, I was down in the zone and getting a lot of ground balls. It was good."

First baseman Casey Kotchman flared a single to left leading off the sixth for the Royals' second hit off Hernandez, but was erased on a double-play grounder by Alcides Escobar as Hernandez faced just one batter over the minimum in his six innings.

Seattle's split-squad lineup contained two starters called up from Minor League camp, including 2014 first-round Draft pick Alex Jackson. Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar gave up a two-run single to Ryan Jackson in the eighth.

Mariners Up Next: Left-hander James Paxton makes his second Cactus League start Friday as the Mariners travel to Surprise to face the Royals in a 6:05 p.m. PT game that will be available on MLB.TV. After dealing with a bruised forearm early in camp, Paxton threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in his debut Sunday against Texas and is in line for one more start next week prior to the start of the season. Dominic Leone and Yoervis Medina are slated to pitch in relief.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.