Seattle backs Felix's gem to gain in WC race

Seattle backs Felix's gem to gain in WC race

SEATTLE -- The Mariners got eight strong innings from Felix Hernandez and tallied six late runs to cruise past the Brewers, 8-2, on Saturday night for their eighth straight win at Safeco Field.

"Awesome, awesome outing," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We certainly needed it, our bullpen needed it. He's rounding into Felix form."

The Mariners improved to 10 games over .500, their best mark since May 25, and moved to one game back of the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card spot. Since a six-game skid ended on June 24, Seattle has compiled the best record in the AL West, going 30-19.

"It's been amazing," Hernandez said of their run.

Servais on Mariners' win

Hernandez delivered his fourth consecutive quality start, allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out eight. Steve Cishek took over for him in the ninth and retired the side in order in his first appearance since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a left hip labrum tear.

"We had a chance early," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We hit some balls hard early, too. … If [Hernandez] was vulnerable at all, it was in the first couple innings, and then after that, his off-speed stuff got really good."

Felix's dominant start

Brewers starter Wily Peralta was chased in the seventh inning when he gave up back-to-back home runs before recording an out. He allowed four runs in all and eight hits to get his ninth loss.

"I thought Wily pitched well," Counsell said. "The two home runs spoiled it. I thought his command of his fastball was really good tonight. There was a whole bunch of pretty quality pitches. Just a couple of fastballs got too much of the plate in the seventh."

The Brewers extended their season-high losing streak to six games. 

Aoki sparks early: 
Norichika Aoki drove in the Mariners' first two runs in a 3-for-5 night at the plate. In the third inning, Leonys Martin took a walk and then stole his 15th base of the season and his third in the past four games. After advancing to third, Martin scored easily on Aoki's single to right field. Then in the fifth inning, Marte stood on first after lining a single to right field. With a 1-1 count on Aoki, Marte took off on the pitch and Aoki placed a line drive down the left-field line. The tailing ball bounced in fair territory and quickly rolled to the fence in foul territory to give Marte enough time to beat the throw home. More >

Aoki's RBI double

Brewers struggle to cash in: Milwaukee got runners on third base in each of the first two innings but couldn't get the timely hit to get on the scoreboard. In the sixth inning, Jonathan Villar singled and stole second base but was stranded when the Brewers couldn't hit him home. They finally took advantage of an opportunity in the eighth inning, when Ryan Braun doubled in Martin Maldonado and Hernan Perez followed with an RBI single, but overall Milwaukee was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Goodbye baseball: The Mariners picked up two runs in the seventh inning with back-to-back solo homers from Mike Zunino and Martin. The longballs gave them a 4-0 lead. The Mariners tacked on four more in the eighth to provide plenty of insurance.

Zunino's solo homer

Scooter's error hurts: The Brewers allowed a costly insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning because of a fielding miscue by second baseman Scooter Gennett. After Robinson Cano led off the inning with a double, Nelson Cruz hit a slow grounder up the middle. Gennett fielded it and elected to try to nail Cano at third base, but all he nailed was Cano -- in the back. The throwing error allowed Cano to score to increase Seattle's lead to 5-2 and Cruz to go to second.

Cano scores on error

Brewers: Milwaukee gives the ball to veteran right-hander Matt Garza (4-5, 4.87 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday at 3:10 p.m. CT. Garza is 3-1 with a 5.12 ERA in seven career starts vs. the Mariners and 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in three career starts at Safeco Field.

Mariners: Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.79 ERA) will make his third start on Sunday since being acquired from the Orioles for left-handed starter Wade Miley on July 31. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PT.

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Maddie Lee is a reporter for based in Seattle.

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.