Felix's gem helps M's snap 5-game losing streak
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Felix Hernandez wasn’t happy to see Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu come out of the dugout in the ninth inning to replace him.
Hernandez came within one out of a complete game and the Mariners held on for a 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday, snapping a five-game losing streak.
One day after a players-only meeting that followed a 7-1 loss Saturday night, Hernandez’s gem couldn’t have come at a better time for struggling Seattle.
“We talked about having a tremendous performance by Felix and he went out and did,” Wakamatsu said. “A gutsy performance.”
Hernandez pitched a dominant game to stem the tide of eight losses in nine games for the Mariners. They had dropped five of six on this road trip, getting outscored 44-14.
“It was a must-win,” said Milton Bradley, who hit a two-run homer. “The way we’ve been playing was unacceptable. The way I’ve been playing has been unacceptable. It’s time to do something about it, starting with myself.”
Bradley’s homer tied it in the fourth and Jose Lopez doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth.
Hernandez (4-5) held the Padres in check other than a two-run, inside-the-park homer by Tony Gwynn in the third inning. The right-hander gave up four hits, tied his season high with nine strikeouts and walked one while throwing a season-high 128 pitches.
“He has turned into one of the true No. 1s on a major league staff,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
While the Mariners were not willing to credit their closed-door meeting for Sunday’s performance, Hernandez said it was positive.
“We talked about good things and then we went out there and fought,” Hernandez said. “It’s important for us, I’m not going to lie. Our minds are better.”
Hernandez was within one out of his second complete game this season when he was replaced by David Aardsma. Wakamatsu’s trip to the mound produced a lighthearted moment after the manager motioned for the pitching change when he came out of the dugout.
“I asked him, ’Why don’t you come to the mound first and ask me how I feel?”’ Hernandez said with a smile. “He said, ’I know the answer, that’s why.”’
Adrian Gonzalez had reached on a one-out bloop single in the ninth before Scott Hairston forced him at second base for the second out. Aardsma then replaced Hernandez and retired Nick Hundley for his 13th save in 17 chances.
Hernandez threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of his 31 batters.
“Four hits tells you what kind of stuff he had,” Wakamatsu said. “But to get deep in the game, you have to get ahead of the hitters. I thought he attacked the zone.”
Bradley’s homer, his fifth, came off starter Clayton Richard, and was his second in three games.
Lopez broke a 2-all tie in the eighth when he doubled into the left-field corner off Luke Gregerson (1-2). The hit scored Chone Figgins, who led off with a single.
Gregerson had his string of 13 2-3 scoreless innings snapped.
Ichiro Suzuki added an RBI double in the ninth off Joe Thatcher. Rob Johnson, who led off the inning with a single, finished with three hits to tie his career high.
Gwynn put the Padres ahead with his inside-the-park shot. Following Jerry Hairston Jr.’s leadoff double, Gwynn hit a sinking line drive to center field that Franklin Gutierrez failed to field as he tried for a diving catch.
The ball got past Gutierrez, who initially hesitated coming in, and rolled all the way to the wall before left fielder Bradley retrieved it. By that time, the speedy Gwynn was rounding third, and he scored standing up without a throw.
It was Gwynn’s second homer of the season and his first inside-the-park shot.
“I knew that once he missed it, I figured that they were probably playing me a little shallow,” Gwynn said. “I knew the ball was going to roll all the way to the wall, so I just put my head down and ran.”
The only other hit off Hernandez was a single by Scott Hairston leading off the seventh.
Hernandez appeared to pick off Scott Hairston at first base before plate umpire Angel Hernandez called him for a balk, sending the runner to second. He advanced to third on a groundout, but Hernandez got out of the inning by striking out Will Venable and getting Hairston Jr. on a grounder.
Richard allowed five hits over seven innings. The left-hander walked four and struck out two.
NOTES: Suzuki’s ninth-inning double extended his interleague hitting streak to 17 games, the top active streak in the majors. Suzuki is batting .429 (33 for 77) during the streak. ... Gwynn’s father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, had two inside-the-park homers in his 20-year career. ... Black was back after missing Saturday’s game to attend his daughter’s graduation from Oregon State.