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SEA@FLA: Olivo plates game-tying run in the seventh

SEATTLE -- The Florida Marlins tried making themselves at home Friday night at Safeco Field, but Felix Hernandez never let them get too comfy as Seattle snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-1 win in a game played under National League rules.

Though Hernandez was a little wild early -- with two walks and two hit batters in the first two frames -- the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner held the Marlins to two hits and a lone run in eight innings in a contest originally scheduled for Miami.

Hernandez wound up hitting a career-high three batters and walking two, but allowed just two hits with 10 strikeouts while improving to 8-6 with a 3.19 ERA on the season.

The only downside for the crowd of 15,279 was seeing manager Eric Wedge pinch-hit for Hernandez in the top of the ninth after Miguel Olivo provided a safe cushion with a two-run home run.

"That's all right," Wedge said of the good-natured boos he received for taking out his ace in the rare situation of being able to pinch hit for the pitcher in his own park. "They love Felix and I love Felix, too."

The Marlins, unable to play this three-game series at their own Sun Life Stadium due to a scheduling conflict with a U2 concert, got a strong outing of their own from Ricky Nolasco as he allowed just one hit -- ironically by the opposing pitcher Hernandez -- through six innings.

"You've got to be sharp with that guy on the mound over there," Nolasco said. "I was telling myself, you can't give up a run if you want to win."

But Seattle finally broke Nolasco's spell with three in the seventh, the big blow coming on a two-run, bases-loaded single by Franklin Gutierrez.

Olivo then ended any suspense with his 12th blast of the season in the top of the ninth as Hernandez's personal rooting section -- the King's Court -- was loudly chanting "Ohh-liv-o" over and over in unison.

"They got me going," said the 32-year-old veteran. "I heard that and when I missed the first fastball I said, 'Man, I cannot strike out right here.' They were excited for me. I'm glad when I hit that ball, they cheered even more.

"That meant a lot to me," he said. "That's the first time people did that to me in my career. I'm very happy and thankful for it."

Florida's lone run came on one of Hernandez's 10 strikeouts, with a ball in the dirt on a swinging third strike by John Buck allowing Hanley Ramirez to scoot home from third as Buck reached base in the fourth.

Olivo said the wild pitch came on a changeup that was moving so much all night that Hernandez struggled to rein it in.

"I've never seen his changeup move that much," said Olivo. "I think that's why he pitched so well today. They kept swinging and swinging and missing. Even me, I could not catch that ball."

Hernandez acknowledged his changeup was a problem in the early going, but was more interested in talking about the King's Court section down the left-field stands that has been growing in numbers while chanting and cheering throughout games when he starts.

"It was unbelievable today. That was loud," he said. "They were pretty good. The King's Court is awesome right now."

The Mariners, batting first and wearing road gray uniforms, didn't score until the seventh on a bases-loaded fielder's choice grounder to third by Olivo before Gutierrez broke things open with his bases-loaded single.

It took some heads-up baserunning by Brendan Ryan to get things going in that rally, as he got hung up going on contact from third on a hard-hit ground ball by Justin Smoak. But Ryan stayed alive long enough to allow Adam Kennedy to go from first to third and Smoak to lumber safely into second with one out.

Wedge called the rundown the difference in the game, but Ryan downplayed it afterward.

"Nothing new there. We're trying to stay out of the double play," he said. "I guess it lasted a minute and a half or so because that's about how long it takes for Smoaky to get to second. But no, it worked out for us. It was a pickle, what do you want me to say? I tried the earthquake drill at the end, the stop, drop and roll to get a little deke there, but it didn't work."

Nolasco then intentionally walked rookie Dustin Ackley to load the bases before Olivo grounded to third, with Greg Dobbs momentarily bobbling the ball before stepping on the bag as Kennedy crossed the plate.

Following an infield single by Carlos Peguero to reload the bases, Gutierrez delivered a two-run single up the middle to give Hernandez a 3-1 lead.

Hernandez is now 12-5 with a 2.70 ERA in 22 Interleague starts. He also has credit for the first hit by a pitcher in Safeco Field history, his single in the third the first by a hurler since the park opened in 1999 due to the normal designated hitter rule for AL games.

But it was his pitching that impressed the Marlins.

"He silenced the bats pretty quick," said interim Florida skipper Jack McKeon. "It looked like we had a chance to get him there, when we had the bases loaded [in the second]. We didn't cash in. Give him credit. He pitched a great game." Comments