What exasperated the Mariners Friday happened all over again Wednesday — another brilliant outing by their ace wasted. For nearly seven innings, Felix Hernandez was flawless against the Padres. He made one mistake — a wild pitch in the sixth — that left a pivotal blemish on his outing.
The bad pitch with a runner on third and two outs proved costly for Hernandez and the Mariners in a 2-1 loss in San Diego in the third of a split four-game series.
Not only did the pitch tie the score at 1, it changed the momentum of the game.
Through five innings, Hernandez was as electric as he was in his 15-strikeout performance in Tampa Bay. After allowing a single to Seth Smith to begin the game, Hernandez retired the next 15 batters, striking out nine with a terrific curve and devastating change-up.
But in the sixth, a leadoff infield single by Alexi Amarista halted the King’s rhythm. San Diego starter Andrew Cashner, who pitched a good game himself, sacrificed Amarista to second. A groundout to the right side pushed Amarista to third, from where he took off when Hernandez bounced a 1-0 changeup off home plate and away from catcher Mike Zunino. Amarista scored without a throw.
Hernandez (8-2, 2.22 ERA) worked one more scoreless frame before manager Lloyd McClendon went to his bullpen with Hernandez at 97 pitches. Hernandez allowed one run on three hits and struck out 10, the fourth time this season he posted 10 or more strikeouts in a game.
In the eighth inning, reliever Charlie Furbush yielded an infield single to leadoff hitter Everth Cabrera. After another sacrifice bunt moved Cabrera to second and a long battle with Tommy Medica, the pinch-hitter singled home the go-ahead run. It was the fourth loss of the season for Furbush (0-4).
Seattle scratched a run in the second inning when Zunino reached base after being hit on the forearm. A sharp single to left-center field by Dustin Ackley put runners on the corners with one out. One out later, Zunino scored on a single by Brad Miller.
Cashner (2-6, 2.36 ERA) wasn’t as dominant as Hernandez, but left after seven innings just as effective. The tall right-hander mixed in a hard fastball and good slider to limit the Mariners to seven hits and two walks. He struck out two.
Mariners’ 1B Justin Smoak (quad strain) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma Wednesday. Smoak batted 0-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter for the Rainiers . . . RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (stiff neck) threw from flat ground prior to the game. Iwakuma remains scheduled to pitch Friday versus the Royals . . . OF Michael Saunders (right AC joint inflammation) and 1B/DH Corey Hart (hamstring) are expected to begin rehab assignments with the Rainiers Friday. If all goes well, Saunders could return as soon as June 26 when he is eligible to be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list. Hart, who has been out since May 18, likely will be with the Rainiers for the majority of the 20-day rehabilitation period, according to McClendon.