Felix Hernandez threw an eight-inning gem and Justin Smoak ripped a three-run homer and knocked in four runs in a dominant 6-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels Saturday night at Safeco Field in front of 32,458. The Mariners won their second in a row following a three-game losing streak and can sweep the Angels Sunday in the series finale.
With the series victory, the Mariners not only improved to 42-52, the six runs increased their six-game homestand total to 44, with 10 home runs — by far the most explosive offensive stretch of the season. The shutout was Seattle’s 10th.
Hernandez (10-4, 2.53), who has struggled against the Angels with a 7-12 lifetime record entering the game, scattered seven hits over eight innings, struck out four and didn’t walk a batter as he reduced his ERA to an American League-best 2.53. His 10 wins are the most in his career before the All-Star break.
Hernandez’s worst start of the season came less than a month ago when the Angels knocked him around for 12 hits, including two homers, and six earned runs in five innings.
Manager Eric Wedge elected to not send out Hernandez, who allowed just two runners to reach third, for the ninth. Yoervis Medina worked a fast 1-2-3 frame, getting Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick on fly balls and whiffing Mark Trumbo.
Smoak delivered the big blow in the sixth with his three-run shot off starter and loser Jered Weaver in the sixth. Smoak’s knock enabled the Mariners to extend their franchise record for consecutive games hitting a home run to 21. The mark had been 19, by the 1999 Mariners. The MLB mark is 29.
The four RBIs by Smoak were his most in a game since he drove in a career-high six May 30, 2012 against Texas.
Smoak went 2-for-3 as the Mariners pounded out 11 hits. The middle of the lineup — Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Kyle Seager and Smoak — had eight of the hits and No. 7 hitter Michael Saunders added two more. The Mariners won for the seventh time in 12 games. Seager extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
The Mariners got to Weaver in the fourth when Morales, Seager and Smoak delivered singles, Smoak’s hit bringing home Morales.
Smoak’s first-pitch homer to straightaway center followed singles by Morales and Seager. Seattle tacked on two in the seventh after Mike Zunino walked and Dustin Ackley singled. Zunino scored on a wild pitch by reliever Scott Downs and Ackley scooted across the plate on a single by Ibanez.
The Mariners could have added to their total when they loaded the bases with two outs after Ibanez’s single, but Smoak, already with four RBIs, flew out to right.
The Angels had two aboard in the eighth with one out when catcher Hank Conger singled to center and J.B. Shuck reached on an infield hit, but Fernandez induced two ground-ball outs to get out of the inning.
The series, and the first half, ends Sunday. First-time All-Star Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97), who is 0-3, 6.83 ERA over his last five starts, will throw for Seattle against Joe Blanton (2-11, 5.40), who has been pounded for 143 hits in 108.1 innings.
NOTES: Stephen Pryor threw a simulated game Saturday and, according to manager Eric Wedge, is close to making a rehab assignment . . . With his first of two homers Friday night, Raul Ibanez became the fifth Mariner to record 150 home runs and 200 doubles for Seattle. The others: Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Alvin Davis.