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Rangers send Mariners to eighth straight loss

The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- Not even streak-stopper Felix Hernandez could slow down the Texas Rangers or break the downhill slide of the slumping Seattle Mariners.

The Rangers piled up 13 hits, 11 of which came against Hernandez, to win their third consecutive game by way of a 5-2 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night.

Seattle (20-29) has now lost eight in a row, the franchise's longest such streak since the Mariners dropped their first 12 games after the 2011 All-Star break.

Texas starter Derek Holland struck out 10 batters and allowed four hits and two unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings. Holland (4-2) threw a season-high 119 pitches, 77 of them for strikes, and picked up a win for the third time in as many decisions this month.

Holland improved his career record at Safeco Field to 8-2.

"I feel comfortable here, just like I do in Arlington or at any other ballpark," he said. "It's great that I've had good success here, but I don't want to jinx myself."

Closer Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 16th save of the season and his second in two nights.

The Rangers' David Murphy drove in three runs, and Nelson Cruz hit a solo home run off Hernandez in the fifth.

"When (Hernandez) threw some balls across the plate," Rangers manager Ron Washington said, "we were fortunate enough to put them in play."

Hernandez (5-4) failed to get past the sixth inning for the third consecutive game, giving up season highs of five earned runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. After allowing just four earned runs in a span of six starts, Hernandez has now been tagged for nine earned runs and 19 hits in his past two starts.

Hernandez, who came out of a May 14 start after six innings because of back tightness, has seen his season ERA swell from 1.53 to 2.79 in a span of two starts.

Hernandez said after the loss that his back is not an issue.

"I feel fine; it's not that," he said. "(The shaky performances) just can't happen anymore. I have to go out and do something about it."

Overall, Hernandez thought he pitched well, but he couldn't keep the Rangers off the bases.

"It's tough," he said. "I made good pitches, but they still hit them."

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said, "He was throwing good. A couple guys just got good at-bats against him, and we made him throw a lot of pitches."

Texas (32-17) has 26 hits in the first two games of the series, with 19 of them coming off Seattle starters. Eight of nine batters in the Rangers' starting lineup had hits on Saturday, one day after all nine Texas position players hit safely in a win.

The Rangers survived a health scare in the top of the ninth when Beltre fouled a 3-2 pitch off his left knee and fell to the dirt in obvious pain. Beltre eventually shook off the injury and drew a two-out walk.

On a night when the Mariners commemorated his 2012 perfect game with a bobblehead giveaway, Hernandez got roughed up in the early going for the second game in a row. He gave up four hits during a second inning that saw the Rangers jump out to a 3-0 lead.

Mitch Moreland and A.J. Pierzynski took advantage of infield shifts to open the inning with back-to-back singles down the third-base line. Then rookie Jurickson Profar singled in the game's first run. After shortstop Brendan Ryan nailed Pierzynski at the plate on a ground ball for the second out of the second inning, Murphy doubled down the right-field line for a 3-0 lead.

That gave Hernandez, who had allowed one earned run or fewer in six consecutive starts before last weekend, eight earned runs in a span of seven innings in two starts.

"The last couple of games," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, "he hasn't been his typical self -- that's for sure."

The Mariners got two runs back during a two-out third, thanks in part to Elvis Andrus' error at shortstop. After Andrus booted Michael Morse's grounder to keep the inning alive, Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales hit a two-run double off the right-field wall to pull Seattle to 3-2.

Hernandez continued to struggle -- he allowed leadoff hits in four of the first five innings -- but got some timely strikeouts and a nice inning-ending catch by center fielder Michael Saunders at the wall to keep the Mariners close. Not until Texas slugger Nelson Cruz hit a two-out, solo home run in the fifth for a 4-2 lead did the Rangers add to their advantage.

Through the first five innings, Hernandez had allowed a season-high 10 hits while giving up four runs for only the second time since April 11.

Holland had nine strikeouts during the first five innings, including a fourth inning that saw him strike out the side. Both of the runs he allowed in the third were unearned.

The Mariners had just five hits while striking out 11 times.

"This is where you've got to be tough," Wedge said of his team's eight-game slide. "You've got to stay determined. You've got to stay hungry. You've got to keep coming to the ballpark and pounding on that wall."

NOTES: Before Saturday's game, Texas transferred LHP Matt Harrison (back) from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Harrison was the Rangers' Opening Day starter, but he started only two games before back problems landed him on the 15-day disabled list on April 11. He underwent back surgery earlier this month and won't be eligible to come off the DL until June 6. ... The Rangers claimed OF Joe Benson off waivers from Minnesota and optioned him to Double-A Frisco. ... Saturday night marked the Mariners' 46th different lineup in 49 games. ... Seattle LF Jason Bay, who had never batted leadoff before this season, was in the leadoff spot for the third time on Saturday night. He singled off Holland to open the game, then stole second. He added a stolen base, his third of the season, in the third inning.
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