SEATTLE -- Lack of run support has long been a lament of Felix Hernandez's tenure with the Mariners, but Seattle's hitters bailed out their ace on Monday by knocking Rangers southpaw Cole Hamels out early en route to a 14-6 series-opening victory at Safeco Field.
"It was awesome," Hernandez said. "I started yelling when the game was over, 'Thanks to the offense, we won.' It wasn't pretty, but we won."
Hamels lasted just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven runs on seven hits and three walks as the American League West-leading Rangers opened a 10-game road trip with just their third loss in the past 12 games. Robinson Cano's two-run blast highlighted a five-run first and Franklin Gutierrez added a solo shot in the second off Hamels, who fell to 14-5 with a 3.25 ERA.
"For me, it's just the disappointment of knowing what I am capable of doing and not putting my team in a position to win," Hamels said.
Hernandez (10-5, 3.75 ERA) let the Rangers back in it with a five-run third inning that included a three-run homer by rookie right fielder Nomar Mazara. But Hernandez held on to go 5 2/3 frames with six hits and six runs, and he now has won 10 games or more in eight straight seasons.
The Mariners put the game away with six more runs in the sixth as they won for just the third time in their past 13 games. Seattle remains five games back in the AL Wild Card race at 70-67, while the division lead over the Astros is down to 8 1/2 games for the Rangers (82-56).
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mariners hammer Hamels: The Mariners have scored 13 runs in their last four innings against Hamels, including Aug. 30 in Arlington, when he allowed six runs combined in the fourth and fifth innings. The lefty has allowed 20 of the last 29 batters he faced to reach base, on 13 hits and seven walks. This marked the second shortest outing of his career. More >
It's all right: The Mariners were just 21-31 vs. left-handed starters (compared to 48-36 vs. righties), but their right-handed platoon hitters did the job in the first two frames in putting up seven runs on Hamels. Gutierrez laced an opposite-field homer in the second, Dae-Ho Lee had a pair of run-scoring singles and even third-string catcher Jesus Sucre got in the act with a two-run single. Sucre, a career .176 hitter over 222 previous at-bats, is now 4-for-6 against Hamels, and he finished with three hits in his first appearance since being added as a September callup. Gutierrez went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, while Lee finished with three RBIs. More >
Beltre runs into record:Adrian Beltre scored on a single by Jonathan Lucroy in the third. It's the 11th straight game Beltre has scored a run, tying the club record held by Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.
Digging deep: Hernandez needed 49 pitches to get through the Rangers' five-run third inning, which matches the most in the Majors this season (Jimmy Nelson of the Brewers and Alfredo Simon of the Reds both did the same against the Cubs earlier this year). But Hernandez had thrown just 16 pitches in his first two innings, so manager Scott Servais let him work through the long third -- when he gave up four hits and three walks -- and the ace responded by retiring the Rangers in order in the fourth and fifth before allowing a leadoff homer to Rougned Odor in the sixth. Hernandez was lifted after 101 pitches with an 8-6 lead.
"That's nerve-wracking," said Servais. "It's hard to leave a pitcher out there for 49. He's the one guy I have faith in that he can work his way through that and make an adjustment. They did a very good job of laying off the ball down. They made him get the ball up, and when they do that, they can really hit. He hung in there and got us into the sixth, and that's all we could ask after that five-run third."
"I feel good. I feel honored to be part of that group." -- Odor, on becoming the fifth Rangers player to hit 30 home runs at age 22 or younger. He joins Jeff Burroughs, Pete Incaviglia, Ruben Sierra and Juan Gonzalez
"I felt fine. I feel really good. I didn't know. They told me I threw 49 pitches and I said said, 'All right, I'm going to go back out there and one, two, three.' It's confidence. He knows I'm the ace of the staff. He knows sometimes I have a rough inning and then I bounce back." -- Hernandez, on his dugout discussions
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Rangers left-hander Alex Claudio pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Hamels. It is the seventh time this season Claudio has thrown two-plus scoreless innings in an outing.
Cano, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, is hitting .429 (15-for-35) with three homers and six RBIs over his past nine games as he continues his strong season for Seattle. His 32 homers are just one shy of his career high, set in 2012 with the Yankees.
REPLAY UPHOLDS RUN
The Mariners had Nelson Cruz at third and Kyle Seager at second with no outs in the sixth against Rangers rookie Yohander Mendez. The Rangers had the infield back when Dae-Ho Lee hit a hard one-hop grounder at Odor at second. He tried to make a play at home and Nelson Cruz slid around Lucroy's tag. The Rangers challenged the safe call by home-plate umpire Dale Scott, but after a review, the ruling was that the call stands.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers against the Mariners at 9:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Safeco Field. Perez pitched six scoreless innings against the Mariners in his last start last Wednesday in a 14-1 win.
Mariners:James Paxton (4-5, 3.83 ERA) gets the call in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game. The 27-year-old lefty allowed four runs and eight hits over five innings in his last start last Tuesday in Texas. He dealt with a torn fingernail in that game, an issue that will be closely monitored after it limited his pitch selection in that outing.