Home runs give Felix, Rainiers headaches

Home runs give Felix, Rainiers headaches

Home runs give Felix, Rainiers headaches
SEATTLE -- Upwards of 1,700 people occupied King's Court -- Felix Hernandez's special cheering section -- on Saturday afternoon, serenading the Mariners ace with chants. But the right-hander wasn't his usual self.

Hernandez fought admirably through long innings and a high pitch count, but the Angels finally got to him with a grand slam in the sixth en route to a 5-3 win at Safeco Field.

Before Alberto Callaspo's pinch-hit slam put the Angels up, 5-2, Hernandez had worked through the Angels well enough to limit the damage to just one run. But it wasn't easy for the righty, who gave up 10 hits on 99 pitches in six innings. Hernandez allowed a baserunner in each inning and had to strand runners on third twice.

The six innings mark the second-shortest outing for Hernandez this season, and the two home runs -- he also allowed a solo shot to Albert Pujols -- are a season high. But despite the trouble, quite a few of the Angels' hits were of the infield variety, including two of the three that loaded the bases in the sixth before Callaspo's slam.

"Tip my hat to those guys because [they] were pretty good pitches," said Hernandez of the two home runs. "The grand slam, it was just up and in. He just pulled his hands and hit it. It was a good slider to Pujols, too, and he hit it. Pujols is a pretty good hitter."

"He just left a breaking ball up, and obviously, I put the best swing of the day [on it]," Pujols said. "But [Hernandez] battles. Even the days that he doesn't feel good out there, he's still a pretty impressive kid."

The grand slam came after the Mariners had taken the lead for the first time in the previous inning.

With runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, Mike Carp fell behind, 0-2, against Angels starter Jerome Williams before singling to the right side to tie the game, 1-1. John Jaso, who scored from third, had been the first Seattle baserunner to advance past first when he led the frame off with a double.

Two batters later, Dustin Ackley put the Mariners ahead, 2-1, with an RBI single up the middle. But the Mariners stranded runners at second and third when Michael Saunders struck out swinging -- one of 12 strikeouts by the Mariners.

"I'm still disappointed with the overall approach," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I mean, we've got guys who are still in-between up there. We've got guys who are taking too many fastballs. At times, we're getting a little bit too picky with two strikes, too many called thirds. We're still fouling off pitches we should be squaring up. No, I'm not pleased."

Justin Smoak hit a solo home run, his seventh, in the sixth. The first baseman also went deep Friday, marking the first time since June 2-3 of last season that he's homered in back-to-back games.

But it wasn't enough offense to support Hernandez, who fell to 4-4 after dropping three of his last four outings. May continues to be a dreadful month for Hernandez, who is now 10-20 with a 4.68 ERA in 39 career starts in the month.

"It's terrible," Hernandez said. "I mean, I don't know why it happens in May, but [it is] the worst month of my career. No idea why. But not today, I made good pitches, they just got it."

Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jlieb24. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.