Felix's uneven outing not enough vs. 'tough' Royals

'They just pestered him,' McClendon says after 4-1 loss

Felix's uneven outing not enough vs. 'tough' Royals

SEATTLE -- It wasn't like the one-third of an inning, eight-run disaster in Houston that had the Mariners scratching their heads and it was far from the eight-inning gem he threw on Wednesday to outduel the Giants' Madison Bumgarner.

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Instead, Felix Hernandez's 6 2/3-inning, four-run effort in a 4-1 loss to the Royals on Monday was a little of both. The Mariners' ace ran into early trouble and allowed a season-high nine hits but survived long enough to keep the Royals from blowing the game wide open and reaching the depths of the Mariners' bullpen.

"I thought [Hernandez] had good stuff," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "But you look at the numbers [for Kansas City], they don't walk and they don't strike out."

Hernandez had struck out six or more hitters in eight of his 14 starts prior to Monday night. But the Royals struck out just five times against King Felix, putting the ball in play and working deep into counts. After just three innings on the mound, Hernandez had already thrown 55 pitches and surrendered five hits.

"They just pestered him. I think they hit one ball hard all night and the rest of them found holes," McClendon said. "That's the game, that's baseball."

Hernandez (10-4, 3.24 ERA) struggled to keep Kansas City off the basepaths early in the ballgame. After retiring the first four batters he faced, Hernandez allowed a sharp double down the left-field line to Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Back-to-back singles by right fielder Alex Rios and second baseman Omar Infante gave the Royals a 2-1 lead later in the inning.

Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas continued the hit parade to open up the third inning. Escobar singled to center and Moustakas doubled to right to extend the Royals' lead to two.

"I didn't have my best stuff today," Hernandez said. "They just put the bat on the ball. I made good pitches and they'd get a base hit. Sometimes that happens."

Mariners turn two

As Hernandez's pitch count rose, so did his effectiveness against a Royals lineup that had knocked him around earlier in the game. On his 102nd pitch of the night, he struck out Rios on a changeup he said wasn't working for him for most of the game.

Between the fifth and seventh innings, he retired five straight Kansas City hitters before a fourth set of back-to-back hits -- a pair of singles from center fielder Jarrod Dyson and Escobar in the seventh -- ended his night at 112 pitches.

It wasn't anything out of the ordinary from the Royals, just another pesky moment from a Kansas City lineup that has struck out the least of any team in the Majors this season.

"I was throwing a good game until the seventh and they scored another run," Hernandez said. "They're tough, they're good hitters."

Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.