It took four tries, but Felix Hernandez finally recorded victory No. 100, a 7-1 decision over the Houston Astros Monday that snapped Seattle’s three-game losing streak and, for the moment, lifted a pall over a horrific road trip to the state of Texas. After dropping three in a row to the Texas Rangers, Seattle took the first of three against the Astros, the only club in the AL West worse (5-14) than the Mariners (8-13).
Hernandez dominated the Astros, cruising through a six-inning effort with just five hits allowed while striking out nine and walking none. Fernandez, who had five of his strikeouts in the first two innings, was abetted in his second victory of the season (2-2) by three home runs — a Kyle Seager shot to right in the third inning, a massive Jesus Montero jolt to center in the fourth, and a Kendrys Morales blast to right in the fifth.
Hernandez is 100-78 in his major league career, all with the Mariners. It took him 243 career stars to register his 100th victory.
The game’s bad news was that centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez appeared to strain his hamstring in a sliding attempt to catch a sinking liner. He was already a candidate for the disabled list from previous leg problems. A decision could be made Tuesday. Class AAA Tacoma outfielder Carlos Peguero was from the Rainiers game in Salt Lake City, according to a tweet from the thenewstribune.com.
Seager’s home run extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games and helped the Mariners, who had been flailing at the plate, win their first game on a six-game trip.
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the first when Justin Smoak’s infield single scored Seager, went up 3-0 when Seager’s two-run homer scored Franklin Gutierrez, took a 5-0 lead when Montero’s home run plated Dustin Ackley, went up 6-0 on Morales’s solo shot, and moved out to 7-0 when Montero’s sacrifice fly scored Smoak.
Montero’s home run, an estimated 441 feet, was his first since Sept. 2, 2012, against the Los Angeles Angels.
Monday’s game marked the second time that the Mariners hit three home runs in a game. They did it April 9, also against Houston, when Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez went deep in a 16-9 loss to the Astros.
The Astros only run came in the seventh when Rick Ankiel homered off Carter Capps, who replaced Hernandez.
Hernandez became the third Seattle pitcher to win 100 games, following Jamie Moyer (1996-06), who won 145, and Randy Johnson (1989-98), who won 130.
Game two of the series is Tuesday when Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 1.69 ERA) starts opposite Houston’s Bud Norris (2-2, 4.74).
The Mariners return to Safeco Field Thursday for a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, followed by three versus Baltimore.