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SEATTLE (AP) — In his past two starts, Felix Hernandez has been brilliant. He's allowed one run and struck out 21 in more than 15 innings.
His reward for those two performances: no wins and one loss thanks to the Seattle Mariners scoring no runs to back their ace.
"We wanted to score some runs to help him out," Seattle catcher Mike Zunino said. "They threw nine great innings against us."
Elvis Andrus singled, stole two bases and scored on Adrian Beltre's infield grounder in the ninth inning and the Texas Rangers did just enough against Hernandez for a 1-0 victory over the Mariners on Friday night.
Hernandez (8-2) was coming off a career-best 15 strikeout performance in his last outing against Tampa Bay. Hernandez dominated the Rays, but didn't get the victory because Seattle's offense failed to score during his seven innings on the mound.
An identical scenario played out against Texas. Hernandez was just as dominant — minus the strikeouts — and the Mariners again failed to provide their ace any runs.
Andrus singled with one out in the ninth, then proceeded to steal second and third base. The second stolen base came as Shin-Soo Choo walked on a 3-2 pitch from Hernandez, the final batter for Seattle's ace.
Closer Fernando Rodney entered and got Beltre to hit a grounder into the hole at shortstop. Brad Miller fielded the ground ball and was able to get Choo at second, but Robinson Cano's turn on the double play attempt was rushed and the throw was wide. Beltre was safe, Andrus scored and Texas got the run it needed.
"The difference was the base hit to Andrus and he stole the two bases," Hernandez said. "That was the difference of the game."
Seattle lost its fourth straight after being swept by the New York Yankees. It's been a disheartening return home after a successful road trip that saw Seattle reach five games above .500, only to give most of that back.
"We're going through a little funk right now," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We've got to fight and stay together and we will come out of this."
At one point Friday, Hernandez retired 15 straight batters. He allowed only four hits and struck out six. The Rangers have now handed Hernandez 21 career losses. He wasn't in the mood to find out his numbers were better this time than his last outing against Texas when he allowed three runs in six innings.
"Big deal. It was still a lousy game," Hernandez said.
Matching Hernandez was Texas starter Nick Tepesch and a trio of relievers. Tepesch threw 6 1-3 innings, Jason Frasor finished off the seventh, Shawn Tolleson (2-1) got through the eighth and Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
Tepesch faced the minimum through five innings and used just 47 pitches to set down the first 15 batters. The only batter to reach for Seattle was Zunino with a single leading off the third inning.
Zunino lined a ground-rule double into the Mariners' bullpen leading off the sixth, the first baserunner by either team to reach second base but was left stranded at third.
Tepesch started struggling in the seventh. With two on and one out, Tepesch was lifted in favor of Frasor who struck out pinch-hitter Endy Chavez looking and Dustin Ackley swinging to end the inning.
Tolleson worked a perfect eighth to get the victory. Texas posted its 13th shutout and fourth 1-0 victory this season.
"It's just a win. We see King Felix a lot so it's just a win," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I wouldn't put any more credence to it than what it was."
NOTES: Seattle OF/DH Corey Hart (hamstring) hit on the field before the game for the first time since being injured on May 18. ... Rangers RHP Derek Holland (knee surgery) threw live batting practice on Friday. He's scheduled to throw another live BP session on Wednesday. ... Texas LHP Joe Saunders will make his fifth start on Saturday. He pitched last season for Seattle, going 11-16 in 32 starts.
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