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07/28/09 3:15 AM ET
Hernandez unable to end Mariners' skid
Right-hander gives up seven runs over 5 2/3 innings
By Jim Street / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Mariners are mired in a losing streak, and not even ace right-hander Felix Hernandez could come to the rescue on Monday night. "I tried to step up and couldn't do it," Hernandez said. The All-Star surrendered a season-high seven runs over 5 2/3 innings and had his personal seven-game winning streak snapped in the Mariners' 11-4 loss to the Blue Jays before 28,696 at Safeco Field. It was the fourth straight loss for the Mariners -- their second-longest skid of the season -- and further eroded the good vibes created after they won five of seven games during their most recent road trip. All four losses have been blowouts. Since returning home from a superb road trip to Cleveland and Detroit after the All-Star break, winning five of seven games, the Mariners (51-48) have lost by scores of 9-0, 10-3, 12-3 and 11-4. "I have stood up here quite a few times this year and said we revolve around starting pitching and defense," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Obviously giving up that many runs takes you out of the game awfully early." The Mariners, playing without their two best home run hitters, first baseman Russell Branyan and second baseman Jose Lopez -- sidelined with sore backs -- had 12 singles, including three each by Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez. Singles night worked well enough for Hernandez to have a one-run lead going into the sixth inning. But after retiring the first two batters in the sixth, he surrendered five singles and a walk and was lifted after the visitors had a 7-4 lead. "You have a great feeling with Felix out there that he will get out of it," Wakamatsu said. "We talked before the game about him trying to save the bullpen today and him being a savior for us in many, many games for us this year. But I didn't think he was sharp." Hernandez was at a loss to figure out why he was so out of character. He went into the series opener with a string of 11 straight quality starts (three runs or fewer in six innings). "It was not a good night," Hernandez said. "All of my pitches were all over the place. I tried to throw strikes and pitch my game, but I didn't do that. I'm very disappointed. We have been struggling, and I wanted to step up and do better." It didn't help that two of the hits were on grounders, including one on a hit-and-run play that set up the first run of the inning. "Other than the couple of runs early, we still had the lead going into the sixth, and then the wheels fell off a little bit," Wakamatsu said. "That seems to be the pattern the last couple of days, where we just can't get over that hump. I didn't think [Hernandez] got beat round too much, but a couple of two-out ground balls got through, and we couldn't overcome that." The seven runs Hernandez allowed were the most in any of his 21 starts this season, as were the 11 hits surrendered, and leadoff home runs by Lyle Overbay in the second inning and Rod Barajas in the fifth marked just the third time this season Hernandez allowed more than one circuit clout in a game -- and the first time since May 9. "The guys swung the bats and had some big hits for us," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "[Marco] Scutaro had a great night." Scutaro went 4-for-5, scored a run and drove in one. "When we swing the bats, we're good," Gaston added. "When we pitch well, then we're good, just like everyone else." The Mariners had been good -- until Friday night. That's when the Indians took them apart in the opener of a three-game series, and it has been a struggle ever since. "The toughest thing when you are going through a stretch like this back-to-back-to-back is what the bullpen has to absorb," Wakamatsu said. Right-hander Sean White gave Seattle 2 1/3 innings of relief, and closer David Aardsma worked a scoreless ninth. "We wanted to get Aardsma in a game, but not in that situation," the skipper said. It was Aardsma's first outing since nailing down his 24th save against the Tigers in Detroit. Ichiro continued his almost-daily assault on the 200-hit plateau. He singled in the first, fifth and seventh innings, giving him a Major League-best 145 hits and 46 multihit games. He also has hit in 19 straight home games. Both teams scored a run in the first inning, and they went about it in similar fashion. The Jays started their half of the frame with back-to-back singles, and both runners advanced on an infield out. Scutaro scored the game's first run on a sacrifice fly. The Mariners evened the game in the bottom of the inning. Ichiro and Gutierrez singled and advanced on a grounder to first base by Ken Griffey Jr. Ichiro sprinted home on an infield out. Toronto went ahead again in the second inning on Overbay's 10th home run of the season. Seattle pulled even again in the fourth. Griffey dumped a single into right field, went to second on Chris Shelton's single, to third on an infield out and scored on catcher Rob Johnson's single to left field.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.