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SEATTLE (AP) — It was "Turn Ahead the Clock" night at Safeco Field, including back-to-the future sleeveless uniforms with shirt tails out and some shiny silver shoes and helmets.
The Seattle Mariners feel like their future is now, earning a season-best sixth consecutive victory by beating the Kansas City Royals 6-4 on Saturday night.
Ryon Healy had four hits, including a home run and three RBIs. Felix Hernandez (8-6) earned the win despite back stiffness so severe that it was difficult for him to bend over.
"It was real bad," Hernandez said. "I put a heat pad on it between innings and I couldn't sit (in the dugout). I was standing up the whole game."
The stiffness showed in the first inning when Hernandez gave up four consecutive hits, including a three-run homer to Mike Moustakas. But Hernandez managed to pitch four scoreless innings afterward.
Did he consider skipping his start?
"Come on, man," he said. "I had to go out there. But the ump wouldn't let me wear my hat backwards (on the uniform night). "He said it was too much of a distraction with my jersey out and the earrings. I said. 'Look, this is the future.' "
Edwin Diaz pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 31st save of the season.
Jason Hammels (2-10) lost his fifth straight, allowing all six runs on 13 hits in six innings.
"Mechanically, the first few innings I was a mess," Hammels said. "That's a tough lineup. I felt like I was throwing batting practice today."
So did Hernandez in the first inning, but Seattle manager Scott Servais said they were just hoping to get five innings out of him.
"The ball was up in the first because he wasn't extending due to the tightness in his back," Servais said. "He wasn't finishing his pitches, but he got through it. The key was keeping us in the game, which he did, and we took advantage of it."
The Mariners (53-31) are 22 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003 season. They have gone 16 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance, the longest dry spell in professional sports.
"We're just living the dream now," Hernandez said. "I love these guys. It's the best team we've had in my 14 years. It's fun."
Kansas City manager Ned Yost said he knew Hernandez would get better as the game progressed.
"Good pitchers, if you're going to get them, you better get them early because they're going to settle in," Yost said. "Hernandez settled in in the second."
The Mariners quickly got back in it. Mitch Haniger made it 3-1 in the bottom of the first when he doubled to the gap in left-center to score Jean Segura, who singled.
The Mariners took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second. Healy homered to left-center to tie it at 3 and Mike Zunino hit a sacrifice fly.
The Mariners added two more runs on five hits in the third inning to take a 6-3 lead.
It was another impressive win for the Mariners on a night of uniforms that were supposed to represent the year 2027. Dee Gordon wore his hat backward and Nelson Cruz showed off his giant biceps in the sleeveless attire.
"Dee put so much effort into it, so it was his night,'" Healy said. "But Nelson and those arms. My goodness. That's shear intimidation when he doesn't wear sleeves."
Royals: Yost said RHP Ian Kennedy was feeling better Saturday after experiencing tightness on his left side when he left the game Friday after five innings. Yost didn't day whether Kennedy would make his next scheduled start . INF Chester Cuthbert (lower back strain) went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored in his first rehab assignment game at Triple-A Omaha on Friday night. Cuthbert appeared in 30 games and was hitting .194 before the injury on May 16.
Royals: RHP Brad Keller (2-2, 2.25) will make his sixth start of the year Sunday. Keller is coming off the best start of his rookie season when he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only two hits in a 2-0 victory over the Angels Monday.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (7-2, 3.65) will make his 18th start of the season Sunday. Paxton leads the team in strikeouts this season with 134 in 103 2/3 innings. He has six double-digit strikeout games in 2018 and his 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings are fourth-best in the AL.
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