ARLINGTON -- Felix Hernandez racked up his American League-leading 18th win despite being removed from the game with two outs in the sixth due to a stiff right elbow as the Mariners topped Texas, 9-2, on Sunday at Globe Life Park.
Combined with the Astros' 5-1 win over the A's, the Rangers' lead in the American League West shrunk to 1 1/2 games heading into Monday's off-day. Texas had trouble all season with the Mariners, who won the season series, 12-7, after taking two out of three in their final series.
Hernandez did a lot of that damage as he went 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA against the Rangers. The Mariners ace hiked his record to 18-9 with a 3.54 ERA while allowing two runs and four hits over 5 2/3 frames before being taken out for precautionary reasons, with the Mariners saying he should be fine for his next start Friday in Anaheim. He is one win shy of his career high with two starts remaining.
"Felix got a little stiff from the long inning and really couldn't get it back to where he wanted," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "He battled and I didn't want to take any chances., so I just got him out of there. Everybody can take a deep breath. It's not the end of his career."
Derek Holland surrendered seven hits and seven runs over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss for Texas, which had won six of its previous seven games. Robinson Cano had a home run and four RBIs for Seattle, which has won 12 of its last 18 to improve to 73-77.
"We knew today was going to be a tough day," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I felt like that offensively our approach against Felix early was a solid approach. Once he got the lead, he did what he always does … that's a quality, quality, premium pitcher."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Muscling up: The Mariners broke open a 2-2 game with six runs in the fifth, thanks to a three-run blast by Cano and Franklin Gutierrez's solo shot to follow. Kyle Seager got things started with a two-run double as well as Seattle sent 11 batters to the plate. Cano's homer, projected at 414 feet by Statcast™, cleared the decks after Holland intentionally walked Nelson Cruz. It was Cano's 17th long ball of the season. Gutierrez's opposite-field poke was his 15th of the year -- in just 146 at-bats -- and he's homered in his past four games.
"He's a tough guy and everything is a battle with him," Seager said of Holland. "Early in the game we put some good at-bats together, were able to lay off some good pitches and kind of got that pitch count up so we were able to take advantage a little bit that one inning."
Holland off target: Three of the five batters Holland walked scored, including Ketel Marte and Cruz in the big fifth inning. After Stefen Romero's leadoff double, Marte walked, Seager doubled him home, Cruz drew an intentional walk and then scored on Cano's homer. In the fourth, Holland walked Cruz and Cruz scored on a Cano single.
"Very similar outing as far as the last one as far as the command of the fastball," Banister said. Holland allowed five earned runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start. More >
At home in Texas: Seager continued feasting on Rangers pitching at Globe Life Park, which the North Carolina native has found to his liking over his career. Seager went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, including his two-run shot in the fifth for the go-ahead runs. Seager is hitting .353 (60-for-170) with 29 runs, 17 doubles, seven homers and 27 RBIs in 43 career games in Arlington, with the highest average of any active Major Leaguer at Globe Life with at least 150 at-bats. Adrian Beltre has the next-highest average at .331.
"It was a good homestand for us, we've been playing good baseball, complete games, despite today. It was a good few series for us, and we're going to try to carry that over into Oakland, and get that first win in Oakland and go from there." --Mitch Moreland, who hit his 22nd home run, on the Rangers' 7-3 homestand, in which they took over the AL West lead
"What that tells you is we're a very talented club that had a horrible first half and is very capable of doing special things going into next year. I'm not trying to take anything away from the other club. Obviously, Texas has done a tremendous job and is leading our division. But I feel good about this club and where we are at this particular juncture. Obviously, we had a lot of things go wrong in the first half. It is what it is and it's going to be what it's going to be, but going into next year, I like where we are." -- McClendon, on his Mariners winning back-to-back series against the Rangers and Angels and finishing strong
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Cano went 2-for-4 with a walk and is now three hits shy of 2,000 for his career. The Mariners' second baseman is gunning to become the 14th player in MLB history with 2,000 hits in his first 11 seasons. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners:Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 3.90) will be on the mound to open a three-game set in Kansas City at 5:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Iwakuma is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three career starts against the Royals.
Rangers: After an off-day, the Rangers will open a three-game series against the A's in Oakland with lefty Martin Perez (3-5, 4.96) getting the start on Tuesday at 9:05 p.m. CT. The Rangers are 6-10 against Oakland this season.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.