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Felix settles after 1st, but Seattle's streak ends

After allowing 4 runs, right-hander limits A's to 1 hit in final 5 innings
Special to MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Felix Hernandez is at a loss to explain his troubles getting out of the first inning this season, a fact he finds even more mystifying considering the success the slumping Seattle ace has had after that.

Hernandez had another rough start to his day, and the Mariners didn't give him much help offensively in a 4-3 loss to the Athletics on Thursday afternoon.

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OAKLAND -- Felix Hernandez is at a loss to explain his troubles getting out of the first inning this season, a fact he finds even more mystifying considering the success the slumping Seattle ace has had after that.

Hernandez had another rough start to his day, and the Mariners didn't give him much help offensively in a 4-3 loss to the Athletics on Thursday afternoon.

View Full Game Coverage

Hernandez allowed four runs, all of them in the first inning, before settling in to retire 16 of the final 17 batters he faced. By then, the damage was done, and the Mariners saw their season-best five-game winning streak come to an end in the series finale at the Coliseum.

"Every five days I'm here talking with you guys, and it's the same story," Hernandez said. "Today was frustrating. I give up four runs and stayed there for six innings, retired the last 16 out of 17, with the same stuff that I got in the first inning. I don't know what's going on in the first."

Video: SEA@OAK: Segura scores from third on a double play

It's not unusual for starting pitchers to scuffle through the first inning, but it's been a season-long issue for Seattle's big right-hander.

King Felix allowed four hits and a walk to the first seven batters he faced. Jed Lowrie had a sacrifice fly, Stephen Piscotty doubled in two runs and Dustin Fowler added an RBI single to put the A's ahead, 4-1.

That raised the six-time All-Star's ERA in the first inning to a whopping 12.27, a key reason behind his struggles.

"That's a hurdle he's gotta get over," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "It's hurt him the last few times out, kind of putting us behind the eight-ball a little bit early. Give Felix credit. He hung in there after the first and got his changeup working and got some soft contact after that.

"Some guys have the ability to work their way through it. Felix needs to maybe come out [with] a little bit more [energy] ... because the game can be lost in the first inning. It's hard. I've often talked about pitchers, the first inning's the most challenging for them to settle in and see what's working. But again, we have to get over a hump there."

Leadoff hitter Jean Segura singled three times and scored, while Kyle Seager had two hits and an RBI for the Mariners. Seattle hit into a season-high five double plays, including three in the first four innings, muting multiple scoring opportunities.

Video: SEA@OAK: Lucas gets Gamel to ground into a 3-6-3 DP

The Mariners won the first two games of the series primarily behind a combination of steady pitching and timely hitting. They got little of either on the final stop of their brief road trip to Northern California, although the day began promising enough.

Segura and Guillermo Heredia opened the game with back-to-back singles. Mitch Haniger, back in the lineup after a day off because of a bruised wrist, walked to load the bases. Nelson Cruz followed with a double-play grounder that plated Segura, but that was all Seattle mustered from that threat.

"The double-play balls really killed us today," Servais said. "We had chances to put more up there. Just didn't happen."

Hernandez (5-4) quickly gave it right back and then some. He had no issues after the first inning, however, and pitched through the sixth, giving up five hits total with one walk and two strikeouts.

"The first inning, that's the problem," Hernandez said. "After that, the same stuff that I have and they don't hit me. If you take all my runs in the first inning, I'd probably be up there with [Houston's Justin] Verlander in ERA."

Oakland managed only one baserunner after the first inning -- Fowler's single in the fourth -- but held on for its third win in nine games against Seattle this season.

Video: SEA@OAK: Freitas smacks an RBI single into right

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
So close: As quiet as the offense was, the Mariners pulled within one run on Seager's RBI double in the eighth and had runners at second and third with two outs before A's closer Blake Treinen got Daniel Vogelbach to fly out to center field.

Video: SEA@OAK: Seager smacks an RBI double to right

SOUND SMART
Hernandez has allowed 15 first-inning runs this season but owns a 4.11 ERA after that. 

UP NEXT
The Mariners return to Seattle for a 10-game homestand beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT against Minnesota. Left-hander James Paxton gets the call and looks to build on his already impressive campaign. Paxton has a 1.70 ERA over his previous five starts and has 45 strikeouts over the past 37 innings. Fernando Romero will start for the Twins.

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Oakland.

Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, Jean Segura