By David Krueger Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Felix Hernandez had one word to describe the Seattle Mariners’ 7-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
He was so excited he repeated it three times.
“Awesome,” Hernandez said. “Awesome. Awesome. That’s how we win.”
On the night of the super moon, the 2010 American League Cy Young award winner who is often plagued by low run support got seven runs — four of which were driven in by third baseman Kyle Seager — and that was more than enough as the Mariners snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Hernandez (3-1) pitched eight innings and gave up only one hit. He struck out nine and lowered his earned-run average to 1.89 while drawing chants of “Long live the King” from the “King’s Court” section.
The right-hander has recorded 17 no decisions in his career when throwing seven or more innings and allowing one or fewer runs, which is the most by any major-league pitcher since Hernandez made his big-league debut in 2005.
The M’s No. 5 hitter made sure that number wouldn’t get any higher, delivering a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs and a 2-0 count, Seager lined a single into center field that scored Dustin Ackley — who led off the inning with a single — and Ichiro Suzuki, who reached base with a walk.
“Seager stepped up there to get us on the board,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Hernandez made sure the slim lead held up, striking out the first two batters in the top of the seventh and then getting Chris Parmelee to ground out to third base.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Mariners made sure Hernandez felt supported, tacking on five more runs. The first three batters got on base — Michael Saunders with a bunt single and Mike Carp and Ackley on walks — setting up a scoring opportunity for Brendan Ryan.
Ryan was able to drive in pinch-runner Casper Wells with a sacrifice fly to left field. Seattle’s next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, delivered a two-run triple.
“Ichi really came up big,” Wedge said.
After catcher Jesus Montero fouled out to first, Seager again stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner in scoring position. This time he belted the first pitch he saw, a 93-mph fastball from Twins’ reliever Jason Gray, 395 feet over the right-field fence. The homer gave Seager four RBI for the day, tying his career high.
The seven-run lead was more than enough for Hernanez, who threw 107 pitches in his eight innings, and finished with a combined one-hitter with reliever Steve Delabar.
“Anytime you got Felix on the mound, you feel like you’ve got a good opportunity there,” Seager said. “… Fortunately today we were able to get a few (runs) across for him.”
“Of course Felix went out there and just pitched tremendously again,” Wedge said. “… It’s nice to see our young offensive players really step up there for him.”
It took the Mariners a few innings to get a run home. They had baserunners in the first four innings, but couldn’t come up with the big hit. Three double plays by the Twins helped end Seattle’s offensive threats.
Meanwhile, Minnesota put runners on base in only one inning — the fourth. The Twins’ lone hit was a Denard Span single to leadoff the inning. Back-to-back walks by Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit loaded the bases for the Twins with two out.
But Hernandez got Parmelee to fly out to Carp in left field to end the threat.
“That’s a big-time situation, with the bases loaded,” Hernandez said, adding that he “felt good” all night.
Wedge said he talked to Hernandez before the ninth inning about pitching, and Hernandez said he had “had enough.” The two thought the seven-run lead was more than enough to get Hernandez his third win of the season. Delabar came on and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
“That’s just vintage Felix if you ask me,” Wedge said. “The way he moved his fastball around. He was dropping his breaking ball in there … he had tremendous feel.”
Twins star Joe Mauer, who was batting .500 (13-for-26) in his career against Hernandez, went 0-for-4, with the last at-bat coming against Delabar in the ninth.
The win snapped a season-high seven game losing streak for the Mariners. Hernandez, Wedge and Seager all agreed it was about time.
“It had gone on a little too long for our liking,” Seager said.
Mariners right-hander Hector Noesi (1-3, 7.83) faces Twins righty Nick Blackburn (0-3, 6.64) at 1:10 p.m. today in the finale of three-game series.