SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez continued his recent dominance over the Angels with seven scoreless innings in a 7-2 series-opening win for the Mariners on Thursday night at Safeco Field.
Hernandez (11-5, 2.84 ERA) moved into a tie with the Astros' Dallas Keuchel for the most wins in the American League as he allowed five hits and struck out six to improve to 6-0 with a 0.74 ERA in nine starts against the Angels since the start of 2014. The Mariners racked up 19 hits -- their most since a 20-hit game in Texas on May 30, 2012 -- while raising their record to 40-46.
"Time and time again, when we need that big win, he seems to come through for us," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said of his ace. "I thought today was an important game, getting ready for the break with four games against a team that's been awfully hot, 9-1 in their last 10. For Felix to come out and do that was just tremendous for us."
Angels right-hander Garrett Richards (9-6, 3.53 ERA) allowed four runs and a season-high 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings as he took the loss, which snapped a five-game Halos win streak. The Angels remain 1 1/2 games back of the Astros in the AL West at 46-39.
"Garrett's really been pitching well. He just had a tough time commanding counts, and then it led to being able to put pitches together and be able to bring everything he wanted to do into the game," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He missed some spots and didn't look like he got in sync. He settled down and got into the sixth inning, but just a tough outing for him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Why wait around? Richards had gone 3-0 with a 0.97 ERA in his last five starts against Seattle, but the Mariners jumped on the right-hander right out of the gate with a leadoff home run by Logan Morrison on a bolt to right field estimated to land 442 feet from home plate by Statcast™. Morrison's 12th homer tied him with Kyle Seager for second on the team behind the 21 bombs by Nelson Cruz.
Corner-outfield cannons: The Mariners tallied six hits in their first two innings against Richards, but only managed two runs thanks to some assistance from right fielder Kole Calhoun, who homered in the eighth inning, and left fielder Matt Joyce. After Seager singled to right-center for the third hit of the first inning, Calhoun threw a strike to catcher Carlos Perez to nab Robinson Cano at the plate for the second out of the inning. Joyce followed up with a dart of his own in the second inning, corralling a Mike Zunino single to nail Mark Trumbo at the plate and limit the damage for the inning to just one run.
"Those were huge. The guys behind me played good," Richards said. "They made the plays they were supposed to make and more. They really saved a couple runs there in the first couple innings."
Productive outs: After going 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Tigers and getting the two runners thrown out at the plate in the first two frames, the Mariners came up big with two key runs in the fourth to give Hernandez a 4-0 lead on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Brad Miller and Zunino. Leadoff singles by Seth Smith and Dustin Ackley and a walk by Trumbo loaded the bases for Miller and set up the consecutive RBI at-bats. Zunino went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, a sacrifice and sacrifice fly from his No. 9 spot in the order.
"That was big," McClendon said. "It was important to add on, particularly against a team like Anaheim. They're tough. The more you can add on, the more you distance yourself from what we call that 'slam area,' four runs. Those runs were big for us."
Leaving 'em loaded: It took the Angels seven innings to get their first runner to third base against Hernandez, but once Erick Aybar got there with one out in the seventh, he went no farther. The Angels loaded the bases with one out on a bunt single by Aybar and back-to-back walks by Joyce and C.J. Cron, but squandered their best scoring opportunity of the game. Catcher Carlos Perez struck out on three pitches and pinch-hitter Efren Navarro grounded out to third as Hernandez finished his night with a fist pump and a 4-0 lead.
"Bases loaded with one out? I said, 'C'mon, you've got to get through this inning,'" Hernandez said. "I threw a lot of changeups and made some good pitches."
"I have no problem with that. We haven't swung the bats the way we're capable. You show me a third-base coach that never gets anybody thrown out and I'll show you a lousy third-base coach. It's part of the game. You have to be aggressive over there." -- McClendon, on Rich Donnelly sending two runners that were thrown out at the plate
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Trumbo went 2-for-2 with a double and walk against his former Angels team and is 9-for-15 over his past five games to hike his average with Seattle from .139 to .213 after a slow start following his acquisition from the D-backs five weeks ago.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mariners had a safe call at third overturned in the second inning when Joyce tried to take the extra base on a single to left by Cron. Third-base umpire Andy Fletcher signaled Joyce safe on the throw from left fielder Smith to Seager as Joyce attempted to roll around the third baseman's tag, but the call was reversed after the review showed Seager getting his glove on Joyce's right leg before his hand reached the bag.
In the ninth, the Angels' David Freese was initially called out by first-base umpire Bill Miller on a 5-4-3 double play that would have ended the game. Manager Mike Scioscia challenged the ruling and the call was overturned, giving the Angels their second run.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Lefty Hector Santiago (5-4, 2.40 ERA) takes the mound against the Mariners for the second time in three starts Friday night at 7:10 p.m. PT at Safeco Field. The 27-year-old earned a no-decision in his June 28 start at home against the Mariners, allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings. Santiago has not allowed more than three runs in a start since June 3.
Mariners: Rookie southpaw Mike Montgomery (4-2, 1.62 ERA) makes his eighth start in place of the injured James Paxton on Friday night. Montgomery is 3-0, 0.38 ERA in his last three starts, including back-to-back shutouts prior to his six-inning, one-run win over the A's on Sunday.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.