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Cruz's 14th homer backs Felix's gem vs. Angels

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ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz crushed his Major League-leading 14th home run and Felix Hernandez remained unbeaten on the season as the Mariners snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Monday night's series opener.

Hernandez is off to the first 5-0 start of his career as he outdueled Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker, allowing just one run on six hits over seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.73. The Mariners are 6-0 when Hernandez starts and 5-15 in the rest of their games.

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ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz crushed his Major League-leading 14th home run and Felix Hernandez remained unbeaten on the season as the Mariners snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Monday night's series opener.

Hernandez is off to the first 5-0 start of his career as he outdueled Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker, allowing just one run on six hits over seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.73. The Mariners are 6-0 when Hernandez starts and 5-15 in the rest of their games.

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"That's a true No. 1," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said after his ace stepped up to stop the losing streak. "That's what they're built for. That's what they're made for. And he certainly did a heckuva job for us tonight."

Shoemaker carried a one-hit shutout into the seventh, but surrendered solo homers to Cruz and Logan Morrison that inning and another to Seth Smith in the eighth. Shoemaker allowed three runs on four hits and struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings. He is now 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA. The loss was the fourth straight for the Angels, who are tied for second with Seattle in the American League West at 11-15, seven games back of the Astros.

David Freese homered off Mariners closer Fernando Rodney with one out in the ninth and Matt Joyce drew a two-out walk, but Rodney picked up his eighth save when pinch-runner Collin Cowgill was caught stealing.

Video: SEA@LAA: Zunino throws out Cowgill to end the game

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Homer-happy seventh: Shoemaker was rolling until Cruz led off the seventh with his fourth home run in his past four games, a line drive down the left-field line that was tracked at 429 feet by Statcast™. One batter later, Morrison followed with his fourth homer of the season -- and third in the past four games -- on a soaring shot to right field that was tracked at 400 feet.

"That was pretty big," McClendon said. "Their pitcher was pitching a whale of a ballgame, too. He had us shut down, and that was probably the only pitch he left up to Cruz all day and he took advantage of it." More >

Video: SEA@LAA: LoMo adds to lead with solo homer

Finally, a Joyce connection: Joyce hit his first home run with the Angels, on a 3-1 pitch from Hernandez in the seventh inning. It was Joyce's first homer since Sept. 23, when he connected for the Rays off the Red Sox's Matt Barnes. Joyce was in a 4-for-46 tailspin before taking Hernandez deep and went 90 at-bats between homers.

"It was nice to get the first one out of the way, but not as soon as I'd hoped," Joyce said. "Hopefully, this will kick-start things. Shoe [Shoemaker] did a great job, and deserved to win." More >

Video: SEA@LAA: Joyce's solo shot gets Angels on the board

He can do more than hit homers: Cruz has brought his boomstick to Seattle, but the right fielder showed off his arm in the sixth inning as well, doubling off Mike Trout at first base on a fly ball by Albert Pujols. Trout was running on the play and tried scampering back to first, but Cruz caught the ball going to his left and fired a one-hopper that first baseman Morrison snared with a nice pick to help Hernandez work around Trout's leadoff single.

Video: SEA@LAA: Cruz doubles up Trout at first

Double trouble: As expected, the Angels had few chances against Hernandez. Two were wiped out by double plays, one grounded into by Kole Calhoun in the fourth inning, and one when Cruz cut down Trout. In the fourth, a walk and a single followed the ground-ball DP, but Joyce's drive to right was run down by Cruz near the line.

Video: SEA@LAA: Cano flashes leather to start double play

QUOTABLE
"It was a great game. Shoemaker was throwing the ball really good. I'm glad Nellie and those guys hit those homers. This was a game where I really wanted to go out and do my best and give my team a chance to win." -- Hernandez, on stopping Seattle's four-game slide

"Albert has hit the ball much better than his numbers show." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Pujols, who took a .212 average into the game

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• With two strikeouts in the first inning, Hernandez moved past Johan Santana (1,988) for the most strikeouts in a career by a Venezuelan pitcher. Hernandez finished with eight for the night and is now five shy of 2,000.

Video: SEA@LAA: Felix fans eight over seven innings of work

• Cruz is just the fifth player in MLB history with 14 homers in the first 26 games of a season, tied with Cy Williams (1923 Phillies), Mike Schmidt (1976 Phillies), Pujols (2006 Cardinals) and Alex Rodriguez (2007 Yankees).

WHAT'S NEXT
Angels: Right-hander Garrett Richards goes for his third victory in a row Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Richards (2-1, 3.00) beat the A's in his last start, April 30, allowing one run in six innings.

Mariners: James Paxton has seen plenty of the Angels in his short time in the big leagues and he'll get another shot in the second game of this series. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts against the Halos, including a 2-0 loss in the second game of the season. Paxton (0-2, 5.74) threw a season-high seven innings with two runs allowed in a no-decision at Houston in his last outing.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com.

Felix Hernandez, Matt Shoemaker