Monday, June 30, 2014
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Hernandez nearly goes distance in Mariners win over Indians

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[June 30, 2014]  SEATTLE -- Seattle Mariners starter Felix Hernandez came within three outs of converting the second consecutive one-hit shutout at Safeco Field of the weekend Sunday, but instead had to watch teammate Fernando Rodney finish off the 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

That was just fine with Hernandez.

"That was good enough for me," he said of being pulled from the game after eight innings and 107 pitches. "That's why we've got Rodney."

Hernandez continued his string of dominant starts with eight innings of one-hit ball, and second baseman Robinson Cano ended two days of offensive futility with a sixth-inning home run as the Mariners (44-38) finished off a winning homestand for only the second time this season. Seattle went 4-2 against Cleveland and Boston.

"You want to win series at home," Cano said. "Now we want to keep the momentum going to Houston (for a three-game series that starts Monday)."

Cano went 2-for-4, including a two-run home run in the sixth that broke a scoreless tie. Cano shook off an inside pitch from Cleveland starter T.J. House, then turned on a 2-0 pitch for his fifth home run of the season into the seats near the right field foul pole.

"I was looking for a pitch I could at least hit out of the infield," said Cano, whose home run came with a runner on third base to give Seattle a 2-0 lead in the sixth. "With no outs, that's what you want, especially with a runner in scoring position."

Hernandez threw eight shutout innings of one-hit ball before turning the game over to Rodney, who converted his 23rd save of the season with a perfect ninth. Hernandez (10-2) struck out nine and walked three while throwing 107 pitches.

Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said there was "no discussion at all" about sending Hernandez back out for the ninth. When asked whether the pitch count had anything to do with the decision, McClendon said it was "based on what the manager felt."

Hernandez didn't seem to have a problem with being taken out of the game that close to a complete-game shutout -- something he hasn't done since Aug. 2012.

"If (McClendon) says, 'That's it,'" Hernandez said, "that's it."

It marked the ninth consecutive start in which Hernandez has pitched at least seven innings while allowing two runs or fewer. During that span, Hernandez is 6-1 with a 1.30 ERA.

"Felix is great," McClendon said. "I don't have the adjectives to explain it anymore. Unbelievable."

Cleveland (39-42) notched its only hit of the game on a Lonnie Chisenhall single up the middle to lead off the fifth. The Cleveland third baseman was promptly thrown out at second on the front end of a double play.

The Indians didn't have a runner in scoring position until the seventh, when left fielder Michael Brantley led off with a walk and moved to second base on a groundout. Brantley ended up stranded on second base.

"The tough thing is that Felix was so good," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "He had everything working. It's hard to get a beat on him."

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Cano's two-run homer, his fifth of the season, snapped the Mariners' 15-inning scoreless streak. Cano also scored on a single from catcher Mike Zunino in the eighth.

Cleveland starter T.J. House, who was promoted from Triple-A Columbus on Sunday morning, allowed just two runs on seven hits in six innings.

"I thought T.J. was really good," Francona said. "We are not here bragging about his outing because of the way Felix threw."

House (0-2) was matching Hernandez inning for inning before Seattle finally got on the board in the sixth.

Center fielder Michael Saunders led off the sixth with a bunt single and ended up at third base when House's throw got past first base for the Indians' second error of the game. Cano then hit a 2-0 pitch into the stands in right field to give Seattle its first score since the eighth inning of Friday night's 3-2 win over the Indians. On Saturday night, the Mariners were limited to one hit by a career performance from Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin.

Seattle (44-38) collected 10 hits Sunday while finishing its homestand with a 4-2 record. It marked only the second time this season that the Mariners have had a winning record on a homestand.

Cano went 2-for-4. Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager also went 2-for-4, his fifth multiple hit game of the homestand.

NOTES: After the game, Seattle optioned OF Stefen Romero to Triple-A Tacoma. The move was made to clear a roster spot for Monday starter Taijuan Walker. ... The Indians promoted LHP T.J. House from Triple-A Columbus before Sunday's game. House started the game for Cleveland, while LHP Nick Hagadone was optioned to Columbus to clear a spot on the 25-man roster. ... With his sixth strikeout of Sunday's game, Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez passed Bob Feller for seventh on the list of most career strikeouts by a pitcher prior to his 29th birthday. Hernandez, who turns 29 next April, now has 1,840 career strikeouts. ... Seattle had a 43-38 record at the halfway point of the season, marking the franchise's best half-season record since the 2006 team went 46-35 through 81 games.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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