SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle ace Felix Hernandez had a chance to pick up a rare victory against Texas on Saturday night.
It just didn’t work out.
Hernandez was unable to protect a three-run lead as the Rangers rallied for a 6-3 victory over the Mariners.
“It’s frustrating,” Hernandez said. “It can’t happen again. They gave me three runs and I blew it. That’s not good.”
Michael Saunders hit a leadoff homer in the first and Kyle Seager connected in the second to help the Mariners build a 3-0 lead. But the Rangers got to Hernandez for three runs in the fifth and Mitch Moreland drove in Prince Fielder with a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
Hernandez is 0-4 with a 6.02 ERA in his last seven starts against Texas and 12-20 with a 4.11 ERA in 41 career starts against the AL West rival.
“He just seemed to elevate some balls – strikes but not quality strikes – strikes we know he is capable of throwing,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He just proved that he is human. It happens.”
In the leadoff spot for the first time this season, Saunders went deep against Colby Lewis to give the Mariners an early 1-0 lead. Seager led off the second with another drive and then scored on Mike Zunino’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.
But Texas managed to run up Hernandez’s pitch count and broke through in the fifth inning.
“Any time you can make him throw a lot of pitches even though he’s in the game fighting, I think it’s always a help,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I think that’s what we did. Even though we didn’t score runs on him early, we were making him work a little bit. He worked awfully hard. I think we had him close to almost 70 pitches before he got out of the fourth inning.
“In that fifth inning, we were able to scratch some runs and put them on the board.”
Singles from Moreland, Donnie Murphy and Leonys Martin loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Robinson Chirinos drew a walk on four pitches to push Moreland across for the Rangers’ first run. Michael Choice singled in another run and Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice fly tied it at 3.
“They were swinging at the first pitch and I was making a mistake staying in the middle of the plate and they were able to put a good swing on it,” Hernandez said. “Three straight hits and after that, I don’t even remember the last time I walked somebody on four straight pitches with the bases loaded.”
Hernandez allowed five hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked three. Charlie Furbush (0-2) got the loss.
Aaron Poreda (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for his first victory since June 25, 2009, with the Chicago White Sox.
After Moreland’s sacrifice fly gave Texas the lead, the Rangers added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth against Joe Beimel. Martin scored on a wild pitch and Fielder singled in Andrus.
Joakim Soria got three outs for his sixth save in six chances.
NOTES: Texas is expected to activate LHP Matt Harrison from the 15-day disabled to start Sunday’s series finale. Harrison hasn’t appeared in a game since April 6, 2013. Harrison was the opening-day starter for Texas last season but only made two starts before landing on the disabled list in need of surgeries to his back and torso. He won 18 games for the Rangers in 2012. RHP Brandon Maurer (0-0, 2.08 ERA) will start for Seattle … It was Saunders’ third career leadoff homer. … Seager is batting .360 (9 for 25) with three home runs and seven RBI in his last seven starts. He’s raised his average from .170 to .213 over that span.