Rodney can't close out Rangers in ninth
Mariners allow pair of two-out runs as Felix misses out on fourth win
ARLINGTON -- Felix Hernandez's troubles in Texas continued on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to the Rangers, but the Mariners ace can't kick himself for this one.
Hernandez hasn't beaten his American League West rivals in their own park since his final start in 2010, but that string was all but snapped until the Rangers rallied for two unearned runs off closer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth at Globe Life Park.
Hernandez outdueled Rangers star Yu Darvish for seven innings, coming out of the game with a 2-0 lead and a runner on third with no outs in the eighth. The Mariners still led 2-1 after that runner scored, but the wheels came off in the ninth when Rodney gave up a two-out single and a walk and shortstop Brad Miller booted a routine grounder that would have ended things.
Miller recovered, but his underhand lob to second for the force was high and the Rangers proceeded to pull out the win with a bases-loaded wild pitch by Rodney for the tying run and then a walk-off single to left by Leonys Martin.
"That sucks," Miller said in a quiet clubhouse. "Everybody did their part but me, so that's tough. I just have to make that play next time. Everybody played their butts off and it came down to me and I messed it up."
Hernandez allowed just one run on four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts in seven-plus frames, with the no-decision leaving him 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA.
"After he turns in that outing right there, you want to seal the deal for him," said catcher Mike Zunino. "He did everything in his power to get us to that spot and it's unfortunate we couldn't. Hopefully next time he has a start like that, we can turn it in for him."
Hernandez breezed through seven shutout innings before manager Lloyd McClendon pulled him following a leadoff triple in the eighth by Martin on his 96th pitch of the night.
Hernandez had retired 10 in a row to that point and hadn't given up a hit since the third, but McClendon said his ace told him he was wearing down before heading back out for the eighth.
"I had talked to him before he went out and he said he thought he had a little bit left in the tank," McClendon said. "But he got that fastball up and started to lose his location a little bit. And he said he was pretty much out of gas."
Hernandez acknowledged it's hard to come out of any game and he was fuming at himself after giving up the triple. But he said he and McClendon were on the same page.
"I just made one mistake in the game and it was that fastball to Leonys," Hernandez said.
Rangers pinch-hitter Michael Choice drove in that run with a sacrifice fly off Charlie Furbush before Texas won it in the ninth with the two unearned runs off Rodney. It was Rodney's first blown save in four chances for Seattle, but he's now lost three of his last five save opportunities against Texas.
This one came after he'd gotten what should have been the final out, however.
"Rodney did a great job for us," McClendon said. "It's unfortunate we made the error there, but that's baseball. Those things happen. Over the course of a 162-game schedule, you're going to win your share of those and lose your share of them. When you're on the losing end, it never feels good. But like I told my guys, turn the page and get ready for tomorrow."
The Rangers were just glad to get Hernandez out of the game and rally for their fourth walk-off win of the season as they improved to 8-7.
"Yu pitched well and Felix pitched really well," said Donnie Murphy, who reached base on Miller's critical miscue. "It was nice to be able to take advantage of Felix coming out of the game and stealing that one."
Wednesday's performance was significant for Hernandez, coming against a Rangers team that has troubled him in the past. Hernandez was 0-4 with a 7.57 ERA in five starts against Texas last year and 12-20 with a 4.18 ERA in 39 previous starts in his career.
"They've got my number, so I had to throw a good game," Hernandez said. "I was really concentrating on trying to make good pitches. I didn't change anything, I just attacked the strike zone. Against the Texas Rangers, you've got to be like that. You have to be on top. I'm facing a good pitcher so I've got to put zeros up, too."
Darvish hadn't allowed a run in 15 innings over his first two starts of the season, but the Mariners got him twice in the second inning.
Nick Franklin tripled to right center in his first at-bat at designated hitter after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the day. The 23-year-old then scored on Zunino's base hit to center and Abraham Almonte followed with an RBI single of his own.
That turned out to be the only damage done against Darvish, who went seven innings and allowed seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. The 27-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in three starts this season.
"That's pretty much what you expect when you have two guys like that on the hill," Zunino said of the low-scoring duel. "They both did their jobs and unfortunately we couldn't finish it off today."
The Mariners fell to 7-7 with the loss and have dropped two of three to the Rangers in a four-game set that wraps up Thursday afternoon.