In a game that looked destined to be another tough-luck loss for starter Felix Hernandez, the Mariners (48-39) showed mettle with a 3-2 comeback win over the White Sox that took 14 innings in Chicago (41-47) Saturday.
With one out in the 14th, Brad Miller drove in the go-ahead run with a double on the 10th pitch he saw from White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario. Fernando Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 finale for his 25th save.
The hit helped avert the squandering of another gem from Hernandez. He and Chicago starter Jose Quintana had a scoreless duel for seven innings, neither giving an inch.
That script changed, to Seattle’s chagrin. Carrying a one-hitter into the eighth for the second consecutive outing, Hernandez immediately found himself in trouble. He fell behind Conor Gillaspie to start the inning and eventually left a fastball over the plate.
Gillaspie tripled on the 3-2 pitch. On the next pitch, Dayan Viciedo delivered a double. Suddenly all of Hernandez’s brilliance was forgotten while Chicago held a 1-0 lead with a runner on second and no outs.
Trouble didn’t end there. With Alejandro De Aza at the plate, Hernandez engineered the ground ball he wanted, only the Mariners were unable to secure an out after Robinson Cano tried to cut down pinch-runner Moises Sierra attempting to go to third. In the rundown, Kyle Seager missed the tag before hurrying a throw to second to prevent De Aza’s advance. Both put-outs failed.
After the umpires reviewed the play on a challenge from White Sox manager Robin Ventura, Sierra was ruled safe at third. Subsequently, Tyler Flowers delivered a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead. Hernandez retired the next two hitters with a strikeout and fly out.
Hernandez (10-2, 2.11 ERA) allowed two runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out eight.
Trailing with three outs to save their ace, the Seattle offense came together against the Chicago bullpen for two runs on three singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly to tie. Michael Saunders delivered the tying run with a hard-hit, two-out single past Jose Abreu, manning first.
Yoervis Medina pitched a nail-biting ninth to extend the game into extra innings. Chicago advanced a runner to second, thanks to a Miller throwing error and Mike Zunino passed ball, before Medina escaped.
Now a battle of bullpens, Seattle had the distinct advantage with the No. 1 relief corps in the AL. The pens shut down the opposition over the next four innings, the Mariners generating the only real threat by loading the bases with two out in the 10th.
That threat was stymied, leaving it up to Miller in the 14th. With one out, Saunders reached on an infield single before Miller won his tense at-bat.
The comeback win came long after Hernandez left the mound with a 10th consecutive quality start of seven or more innings while allowing two earned runs or fewer.
He retired 21 of 22 hitters he faced after yielding a leadoff single to Adam Eaton to start the first. He got some help from outfielders James Jones and Willie Bloomquist.
It was Jones’ catch against the wall in the right-center gap that turned heads. Abreu, the major-league home run leader with 27, hammered a Hernandez offering just to the right of center where a leaping Jones made a spectacular catch at the top of the wall. Jones had been shading the right-handed Abreu to left and covered much ground just to get into position. Hernandez saluted his center-fielder with a point.
For the second day in a row, the Mariners had a tough day against a White Sox left-handed starter. Saturday it was Quintana, the White Sox No. 2 starter, who shut down Seattle.
Quintana, 25, retired the first 11 hitters before yielding a single to Cano. Quintana (5-7, 3.20 ERA) allowed four hits and a walk over 7.2 scoreless innings to go with 10 strikeouts.
However, Seattle got to Chicago’s bullpen in the ninth to rebound from Friday’s 7-1 shutdown loss and win the seventh road game of its last eight. Logan Morrison and Saunders, hitting seventh and eighth in the M’s order, each provided three hits.
The Mariners seek their fifth consecutive series win Sunday with Taijuan Walker making his second start against former Mariner Hector Noesi.
Hernandez’s streak of 10 consecutive games lasting seven-plus innings and allowing two or fewer earned runs is best among AL pitchers since former Mariner Gaylord Perry’s 15 in 1974 . . . OF Cole Gillespie was claimed by the Blue Jays Saturday, one day after being designated for assignment by the Mariners to make room on the 25-man roster for 1B/DH Corey Hart . . . Quintana’s 10 strikeouts were one shy of his career high posted last July 4 versus the Orioles . . . Seattle finished 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.