Shaky early in his second start after seven weeks on the disabled list, Felix Hernandez allowed four earned runs in his first 2.2 innings, but settled down as his offense picked him up, recording a 7-4 win over over the Pirates Tuesday night at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park (box). Hernandez notched his first victory since beating Cincinnati 4-0 May 21.
The Mariners scored one run in the second and three in both the third and fourth innings to improve to 51-48. Seattle is 3-1 on the road trip and has won five of its past seven.
At 4-4 in the fourth, the Mariners manufactured three runs on a SS Shawn O’Malley RBI double that scored Leonys Martin (single), a 2B Robinson Cano single that plated O’Malley and a DH Nelson Cruz ground out that scored RF Franklin Gutierrez (walk). The Pirates managed six base runners after that, but relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Edwin Diaz squelched potential rallies in the seventh and eighth.
The Mariners did their major damage in the third when Gutierrez hit a solo homer, his 10th, off Francisco Liriano, and 3B Kyle Seager followed with a two-run shot, his 20th. Seager went 3-for-4, scored twice and is hitting .288 . . . Martin had Seattle’s only other multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the second . . . The Mariners, who collected 11 hits off six Pittsburgh pitchers, went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left seven stranded.
Wilhelmsen replaced Vidal Nuno in the seventh, inheriting runners at second and third with no outs. He recorded three quick outs, two on strikeouts. In the eighth, Pittsburgh placed runners at second and third — Francisco Cervelli single, Adam Frazier double — with no outs, but Diaz got Jordy Merer, Josh Harrison and David Freese on fly balls to end the threat . . . Hernandez (5-4, 3.45) worked six innings in his second start since returning from the DL and allowed four earned runs, including a homer (416-foot shot to center) to opposing pitcher Liriano, on nine hits with three strikeouts and one walk. He threw 99 pitches, 56 for strikes, before he was lifted. Hernandez, 21-9 in 38 career interleague starts, has allowed nine earned runs since coming off the DL . . . Steve Cishek pitched a flawless ninth, recording his 24th save in 29 chances.
“Wilhelmsen did a great job and really slammed the door. His stuff was really great tonight and that was probably the best he’s been since he’s been here. You want a guy out there who won’t panic and will make pitches. From Felix, we were looking for crisper, sharper stuff early, but he hung in there. He’ll get better. He’s got to come out ready to go because we can’t bail him out every night” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
“I was missing a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate. I didn’t have a curveball today. I’ve got to have better mechanics. It’s a little frustrating giving up four runs in the first two innings. I need to get a little bit more in control of myself.” — Hernandez
The Mariners are 6-4 in their past 10, 3-0 vs. Pittsburgh this season and 10-3 against interleague foes . . . RHP Taijuan Walker (right foot tendinitis) will pitch a simulated game Wednesday in Pittsburgh. It will mark the first time he has faced hitters since going on the disabled list July 6. “I’m expecting him to cut it loose,” Servais said . . . SS Ketel Marte (mononucleosis) played catch in Seattle Tuesday in his first baseball activity since he was placed on the DL last week. Servais said Marte is still regaining his strength after losing eight pounds . . . Ichiro Suzuki, who played for the Mariners from 2001-12, went 1-for-5 for the Miami Marlins Tuesday night and is three hits away from 3,000. Ichiro singled in the eighth inning and stole his ninth base of the season. He has 2,997 career hits.
The series wraps Wednesday at 4:05 p.m., PT. LHP James Paxton (3-4, 4.18) will pitch for Seattle opposite RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 2.99). After a day off Thursday, the Mariners move to Wrigley Field for a weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.