SEATTLE -- When all is well with the Mariners, anytime right-hander Felix Hernandez starts a game, fans can anticipate a stellar performance and perhaps even witness the pursuit of a no-hitter. He's that good. But all is not well with the Mariners right now, and they were the ones being no-hit in an eventual 8-0 loss to the Angels before 37,602 at Safeco Field on Friday night.
Finally, with two outs in the seventh inning, Ken Griffey Jr. stepped to the plate and drilled a single into right field, ending right-hander Jered Weaver's bid for his first career no-hitter and the second in the Major Leagues this season. "I was up there trying to get a pitch I could hit and hit it hard," Griffey said. "The first pitch I let go, and the second one I swung at." The ball made it through the Angels' defense, which had three infielders on the right side of second base, and was Griffey's second career hit in 11 at-bats against Weaver. The Mariners finished the game with two hits and their seventh consecutive loss -- all at home. "We have to keep battling," Griffey said. "We need to go out there and eventually some of those balls we're hitting at people are going to fall in." The only other ball that fell in for Seattle was Michael Saunders' one-out double to right field in the eighth inning. "He made me look pretty foolish on breaking balls my first two at-bats," said Saunders, getting his first start of the season. "In my last one, I told myself to fight off fastballs and sit on his curve. He ended up throwing me a curveball. I was kind of sitting on it and pulled it down the line." That put runners on second and third bases with one out, but the Mariners were shut out for the second straight game and the fourth time this season. "It's not an excuse, but I thought Weaver threw a heckuva ballgame," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He commanded the ball. There were a lot of balls that looked like borderline pitches, but when you go back and look at them, they're pretty good pitches. I thought the umpire actually did a real good job." Well, there was one pitch Hernandez thought was missed. It came in the first inning when, with runners on first and second and none out, Felix threw a two-seamer on a 2-and-2 count to Torii Hunter that was called a ball. "It was a strike," Hernandez said. The next pitch definitely was a ball, and Hunter walked, loading the bases. Kendry Morales then smacked a bases-clearing double to left-center, scoring all the runs Weaver would need to win his fourth game in five decisions and end the Angels' seven-game skid. "Emotionally, you go in there with your ace pitcher," Wakamatsu said, "and right away they put four runs on the board. That puts a damper on a lot of things. You ask these guys to play hard, and I thought they played hard. It wasn't for lack of effort. It was more the results." Hernandez, the Mariners' 19-game winner and runner-up in the American League Cy Young Award race last season, experienced one of the earliest departures of his career -- with one out in a four-run fourth inning. Felix walked Hideki Matsui leading off and Juan Rivera followed with a home run to left-center. Howard Kendrick then added a blast into the right-field seats, and, one out later, rookie catcher Ryan Budde cracked a solo shot to left field -- the first of his career. Hernandez walked Erick Aybar, was replaced by right-hander Jesus Colome and went home with a 2-3 record and 4.30 ERA. "It has been a while since I had a game like this, but it happens in baseball," Hernandez said. "I am not giving up. I will keep working and it will get better." It was only the second time in his career that Felix pitched fewer than four innings in a start, the other time coming on May 15, 2007, against the Angels. He matched his career-high in home runs allowed in one game, let alone one inning. "You have to be patient with him," Hunter said. "His ball moves like crazy. You have to try to make him throw strikes and swing at strikes, and sometimes when you swing at strikes he breaks your bat anyway. The guy is really good, and we were able to get to him early. "That's one of the best right-handed pitchers in the game, and for us to come through like that shows what were capable of. To hit a guy like that after a seven-game losing streak, when you come out and hit a guy like that, it's a lot of fun." The Mariners haven't had much fun this season, especially the past week, and Hernandez had no solution to what has become the longest streak at home since July 19-Aug. 2, 2008, and Hernandez has a losing record (2-3) for the first time since the end of the '08 season. "I don't know what happened," Hernandez said. "I made good pitches and they hit 'em out. The curveball [Rivera] hit out was a good pitch. I don't know how [Kendrick] hit the two-seamer down and away the way he did." As for the one Budde belted, "That was a bad pitch, right down the middle," Felix said. The closest the Mariners came to getting a hit before Griffey's no-hit buster was a hard grounder down the third-base line by Jose Lopez in the fifth inning. Third baseman Brandon Wood backhanded the ball behind the bag and threw out Lopez. "I had one good swing all night, and that wasn't the one," Lopez said.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.