ANAHEIM -- Though he still hasn't figured out quite how to deal with Mike Trout, Mariners ace Félix Hernández handled the rest of the Angels in a 3-2 victory on Monday as soaring Seattle continued pushing its way back into the American League playoff chase.
The Mariners are 63-54 after winning 11 of their past 13 games and sit two games back of the Red Sox in the Wild Card race and 5 1/2 back of Texas in the AL West. The Angels are headed the opposite direction, having lost 11 straight for the first time since 1999 while falling to 49-69.
Hernandez secured the 150th win of his career in Seattle and said it felt good coming in a key situation as the Mariners push to end a 15-year playoff drought.
"One hundred fifty more and I'll get to 300. That's the goal," Hernandez said with a grin. "I'm happy. I'm happy that we won today. It was a big win for us."
Though Hernandez gave up a solo homer to Trout in the fifth after walking the Angels star in his first two at-bats, he allowed just two runs on four hits with four walks and eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. Hernandez is now 3-0 with a 4.08 ERA in six starts since coming off a two-month stint on the disabled list.
The 30-year-old struck out six in a row before Trout unloaded his 23rd homer of the season.
"I was trying to strike out Trout, too, but I left that pitch right there and he hit it out of the ballpark," Hernandez said. "You know what? He's my nightmare. He's got my number. You just have to tip your hat to him."
Tom Wilhelmsen got Hernandez out of a jam in the seventh by getting Trout to fly out to left with two on and pitched a perfect eighth before rookie Edwin Díaz closed things out with his seventh straight save.
Ricky Nolasco allowed eight hits and three runs in 5 1/3 nnings and remains winless in three starts for the Angels since being acquired from the Twins.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Owning King Felix: Hernandez had struck out six consecutive Angels before Trout homered to center field with two out in the fifth inning. It was Trout's seventh career home run vs. Hernandez, the most the Mariners ace has allowed to one batter. This one measured 445 feet, according to Statcast™. Trout has hit .391 with 19 RBIs in 76 career at-bats against Hernandez.
"We've faced him so many times," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Hernandez, who made his 50th career start against the Angels. "With Felix, you know he's going to get stronger as the game goes on, as he did tonight. You know there aren't going to be a lot of opportunities when you go against a pitcher of his caliber."
Boomstick cranks No. 30: Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz ripped his 30th home run of the season in the fifth, blasting a 2-2 curve over the fence in left-center on a shot projected at 425 feet by Statcast™. The solo shot not only gave Seattle a 3-1 lead, it put Cruz at 74 homers since signing with the Mariners in 2015, the most ever in the first two years by a Mariners player. Richie Sexson had 73 in his first two years with Seattle in 2005-06. Cruz joins Ken Griffey Jr. (6), Alex Rodriguez (4), Jay Buhner (3), Richie Sexson (2) and Bret Boone (2) as the only Mariners with multiple 30-homer seasons. Cruz also worked a 10-pitch leadoff walk in the fourth to ignite a two-run rally.
"The atmosphere is good," Cruz said. "Since the Griffey weekend, everything has changed. We feel it and the team is playing better. You definitely wake up every day wanting to come do something to help your team win. To be able to deliver that, it's good."
Good as Gold: Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun, a Gold Glove winner in 2015, used a well-timed leap at the short wall to rob Kyle Seager of a two-run homer in the seventh inning.
"That's a huge catch from Kole, obviously saving two runs," Scioscia said. "That's the way Kole plays. He's a great right fielder." More >
Wilhelmsen wins Trout battle: After Hernandez allowed a double to Nick Buss and a two-out walk to Calhoun in the seventh, manager Scott Servais wasn't about to let him face Trout again with a 3-2 lead. In came Wilhelmsen. And though he had an open base to work with after a passed ball by catcher Mike Zunino allowed the runners to move up, Wilhelmsen threw an 80-mph curve on a 3-2 pitch to Trout … and Trout drove it to the left-field wall, where it was tracked down by Norichika Aoki as Wilhelmsen threw his arms in the air.
"I knew he hit it in the deepest part of the park here," said Servais. "You never know. When Mike Trout is at the plate and the ball comes off his bat like that in the air, it's not a good feeling. No doubt. Everybody in our dugout got real quiet and then we exploded. Sheer happiness." More >
"I go back to it again. Adam watches the Olympics every night before he goes to bed and he fills us in the next day on what he saw. It's the athleticism that he's seeing. It was Usain Bolt the other night, it was the gymnast. The athleticism just continues to keep coming out." -- Servais on first baseman Adam Lind's one-handed grab of a bad hop grounder by Ji-Man Choi in the sixth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Hernandez struck out the side in the fourth, he moved past Roger Clemens as the all-time strikeout leader for any pitcher against the Angels. Clemens racked up 324 strikeouts in 47 career starts against the Halos. Hernandez now has 328 in 50 starts vs. the Angels.
Mariners:Aríel Miranda starts Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. PT game in place of James Paxton, who continues to be bothered by a sore elbow after being hit by a line drive in his last outing. The 27-year-old southpaw is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two outings, including one start, since being acquired from the Orioles in a trade for Wade Miley on July 31.
Angels: Right-hander Jhoulys Chacín (2-6, 6.00 ERA) starts Tuesday night as he tries to bounce back from a rocky outing Thursday. He retired just four Indians and gave up seven earned runs. Chacin has a 2.25 ERA in two career outings vs. the Mariners.
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