SEATTLE -- A Mariners team looking for a boost heading into the All-Star break got a big one from Felix Hernandez on Sunday as the veteran right-hander threw six scoreless innings in a 4-0 victory over the A's at Safeco Field.
Hernandez (4-3, 4.44 ERA) allowed just two hits with three walks and a season-high eight strikeouts in a 100-pitch effort in by far his best outing since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list with bursitis in his shoulder.
•Vintage Felix could bode well in 2nd half
"Felix Hernandez stepped up today," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "That's absolutely the best we've seen him all year. He was locked in, had all his pitches working. He just had a different look about him today and that's what guys that have had the career he's had, they can turn up the dial a little bit. He knew we needed this ballgame and he needed to have a good effort for us and he certainly did."
Seattle won for just the fourth time in its last 14 games and hits the break with a 43-47 record. Nelson Cruz ripped his 17th homer of the season and backup catcher Carlos Ruiz was 3-for-3 with an RBI.
A's rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett fell to 1-4 with a 6.23 ERA as he allowed five hits and three runs over 4 1/3 innings in his seventh career start. Oakland, which had won four of its last five, heads into the four-game break at 39-50.
"It's just frustrating," Gossett said. "It's the same thing. Giving up the homer, throwing the pitch that I can't throw. I had one job on that curveball and it was to not leave it up. It just happens like that and it's frustrating to only be able to go for 4 1/3 [innings]. You got guys in the bullpen that have been working their butts off and then I'm throwing them right back in there in the fifth inning. It's frustrating on a couple parts."
• A's vow to improve defense
The A's managed just two hits -- a third-inning double by Matt Joyce and a fifth-inning single from Jaycob Brugman -- though they did walk five times and stranded six baserunners in their fifth shutout of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tuning up for that All-Star gathering: The Mariners' two All-Star reps teamed up to give Seattle a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Robinson Cano led off with a double and Cruz followed with a soaring two-run homer to center, projected at 402 feet by Statcast™. The blast was Cruz's 17th of the season -- tying him with Cano for the team lead -- and he now has 70 RBIs. He's the 11th Mariner ever to reach the All-Star break with 70 RBIs and first since Raul Ibanez in 2006..
"I guess the power is there. It's nice to do it when we need it, especially in that situation," said Cruz, who has three homers in his last five games after a 24-game drought. "We need every game, but it's always nice to finish strong. We have that memory going home. We got the 'W' and our ace threw the ball pretty well, so those are good things to think about."
Bottom of the order bruisers: Ruiz filled in for the suddenly struggling Mike Zunino and chipped in with three hits, including an RBI single in the seventh that added a nice insurance run for a 4-0 lead. The 38-year-old veteran hiked his average from .194 to .227 with his solid day at the plate while batting ninth. And the man in front of him, Jarrod Dyson, also kept busy by going 2-for-2 with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored as those two combined for five of Seattle's seven hits.
"I had pretty good stuff. I was throwing fastballs, changeups, everything was perfect. I made a good adjustment in the bullpen [this week], my arm slot was really good. I was on top of the ball and able to make good pitches." -- Hernandez
"I'd like to say [it was] unreal, but I've seen him make those plays for a couple of years now. He's a special player," --Gossett, on Chapman's defensive play in the second
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his eight strikeouts, Hernandez passed Juan Marichal into 49th place on the all-time list with 2,310. Next up is Rube Waddell with 2,316.
Athletics: Oakland travels to Progressive Field in Cleveland for the first game after the All-Star break on Friday for a 5:05 p.m. PT start. Sonny Gray (4-4, 4.00 ERA) toes the rubber for the A's against Indians' starter Carlos Carrasco.
Mariners: After the All-Star break, Seattle resumes play Friday against the White Sox in Chicago with James Paxton (7-3, 3.21 ERA) getting the start in the 5:10 p.m. PT series opener. The big lefty has a 3.18 ERA in two prior meetings with the White Sox.
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