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King Felix falters again for Mariners against Rangers

August 8, 2018
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Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez reacts after allowing a soft bunt-single by Texas Rangers' Carlos Tocci during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 11-4. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Felix Hernandez briefly looked like the ace he used to be for the Seattle Mariners, even playfully pointing former teammate Adrian Beltre back to the dugout after striking out baseball’s active career hits leader.

After getting through the first two innings unscathed Tuesday night, including another entertaining on-field exchange with his friend, the struggles returned for the former AL Cy Young Award winner.

Beltre grounded into a double play to end the third, but only after the Texas Rangers had scored four runs that inning to put them ahead to stay. And when Beltre homered to straightaway center in the sixth, it marked the most runs Hernandez has ever given up in his career.

“Yeah, I’m frustrated. What can I say? What can I say?” Hernandez said after giving up all the runs in six innings of an 11-4 loss.

Hernandez (8-10) is 0-4 in his last five starts for the playoff-contending Mariners. This was the only time in that span he pitched more than five innings.

Robinson Chirinos, the No. 7 batter, led off the Texas third with a walk before Willie Calhoun’s single and a bunt hit by No. 9 batter Carlos Tocci loaded the bases. A groundout pushed home a run before Rouged Odor’s two-run double and a tiebreaking single by Elvis Andrus, whose 18-game hitting streak is the longest active in the majors and his career high.

“Yeah, I lost my command after the first two innings. Just leaving it in the middle of the plate and making a lot of mistakes,” Hernandez said.

“Yeah, got off to a decent start. The walks hurt him a little bit tonight again, two or three leadoff walks tonight. Those guys came around to score,” manager Scott Servais said. “I thought we got off to a good start in the game, just it turned on us.”

Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager had back-to-back homers to start the second, then Dee Gordon had a leadoff triple an inning later before coming home on a three-bagger by Denard Span for a 3-0 Mariners lead against Bartolo Colon.

Colon retired 14 of the last 16 batters he faced after that and became the top-winning pitcher born in Latin America, punctuating his 246th career victory when he reached out and snagged a comeback liner by Gordon for the last out of the seventh.

On his sixth try since earning his 245th win on June 30 to match the mark held by Nicaragua’s Dennis Martinez, the portly 45-year-old Rangers right-hander hurler from the Dominican Republic finally had the record to himself.

“It was a long journey, but it finally came and it feels good,” Colon said.

Beltre, Jurickson Profar and Odor all homered off Hernandez, whose spot in the rotation doesn’t seem certain down the stretch.

“Yeah, we’ll see. You have to take a look at where we’re at going forward here,” Servais said. “The next time that spot comes around, we’ll be over in Houston. They’ve also got a good club. We’ve got to give ourselves a chance every time out there to win the ballgame. It’s tough to win. I like the signs of our offense. Our offense is coming around.”

Hernandez, whose 168 career wins are the most by a Venezuelan-born pitcher, struck out two and walked four. He was hurt by two errors by third baseman Kyle Seager that led to four unearned runs.

“I was just bad tonight, didn’t catch them,” Seager said.

Profar’s three-run homer made it 8-4 in the fifth right after Seager misplayed Beltre’s two-out grounder.

“Errors happen. They are part of the game. You got to keep grinding through it,” Servais said. “Just wasn’t able to make pitches after that. Left the ball up to Profar, which kind of sealed our fate here tonight.”

BIG BLAST

Cruz reached 30 homers for the fourth consecutive season since joining the Mariners. Only Ken Griffey Jr. has more 30-homer seasons in Seattle with six. Alex Rodriguez had four with the Mariners at the start of his big league career.

UP NEXT

Yovani Gallardo, 6-1 since rejoining Texas in mid-June for the first time since 2015, starts the series finale. Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales (12-6) had won five starts in a row with a 1.57 ERA before losing Friday against Toronto.

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