ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Felix Hernandez didn’t get the win. His dominant performance put the Seattle Mariners in position for victory, though.
Hernandez struck out a career-high 15 in seven innings before Endy Chavez keyed a five-run ninth with a tiebreaking RBI single, leading the Mariners to a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
When asked what was working, Hernandez said “everything.”
“It was fun to go out there,” he said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon felt Hernandez was better than his perfect game against Tampa Bay on Aug. 15, 2012.
“That changeup was a fastball until the last moment, then it became a changeup,” Maddon said. “The man was outstanding.”
Ten of Hernandez’s 12 swinging strikeouts came on changeups.
James Jones had a two-run triple for the Mariners, who have won seven of eight.
Hernandez had won his previous five starts, which was two away from tying the team record held by Jamie Moyer (2003) and Scott Bankhead (1989), but the Mariners were held scoreless until the ninth by Chris Archer and two relievers.
King Felix scattered four hits. He remains winless at Tropicana Field, going 0-2 in four starts.
“One of these days,” Hernandez said with a smile.
After Brad Miller hit a two-out triple and Willie Bloomquist walked against Grant Balfour (0-2), the left-handed hitting Chavez slapped a two-strike single to left for a 1-0 lead. Jones had his triple before Kyle Seager added a two-run double.
“After watching that for about the last eight, nine years, it’s not lucky anymore,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Chavez’s hit. “I think it’s talent. I’ve seen him do it time and time again.”
Yoervis Medina (3-1) threw a scoreless eighth for the win.
Hernandez reached 1,800 career strikeouts when he struck out Evan Longoria to end the third. Hernandez struck out six through three innings, and 11 though five. This was the right-hander’s 29th double-digit strikeout performance, which moved him past Mark Langston into sole possession of second place on the Mariners’ career list.
Archer gave up five hits over 6 1-3 scoreless innings. He is just 1-1 over his last five starts despite allowing just three runs in 31 innings.
“The young man is pretty special,” said McClendon about Archer. “That’s what you call a game for the purist.”
Tampa Bay has lost 12 of 13.
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but failed to score. Archer got a forceout at the plate after making a stumbling grab on Jones’ comebacker before left fielder Matt Joyce made a one-handed at the wall on Robinson Cano’s opposite-field drive.
Cano extended his road hitting streak to 17 games with a one-out infield single in the eighth.
NOTES: Maddon on Balfour’s status as the ninth-inning man: “He’s our closer as of today. Even if I was going to change anything, I wouldn’t tell you guys.” … After Monday’s game at Tampa Bay, the Mariners return home Tuesday night to open a three-game series with a terrific pitching matchup. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (4-2, 2.66 ERA) and Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka (9-1, 2.02 ERA), former teammates with Rakuten of Japan’s Pacific League, are the scheduled starters. “That’s a match up that I would pay to see,” McClendon said. “I think it will be a dandy.” … Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) felt fine one day after his first rehab start Saturday with Single-A Charlotte. He expects to be back before the All-Star break. … Mariners OF Michael Saunders (sore right shoulder) and 1B Justin Smoak (sore left leg) were both out of the lineup for the second straight game. Smoak entered in the ninth as defensive replacement, while Saunders could return in the next few days. … Seattle LHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-4) is scheduled to go against Rays LHP David Price (4-5) in Monday’s series finale.
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