Cruz's bat, Hernandez's arm boost Mariners over Rangers
SEATTLE (AP) For all the success Nelson Cruz has enjoyed during his career, the Seattle slugger can't ever remember a streak like this.
Cruz hit his 33rd home run and Felix Hernandez earned his 14th win Sunday, leading the Mariners over the Texas Rangers 4-2.
Cruz tied Angels star Mike Trout for most homers in the majors this season. Hernandez (14-6) is tied for the most wins in the big leagues.
''I'm glad he's on our side,'' King Felix said.
Cruz extended his hitting streak to 19 games, tying a career best, with his solo shot off Colby Lewis (12-5) in the sixth.
Cruz is batting .422 with 11 home runs, six doubles and 15 RBIs during the streak.
''I think so, no doubt, it's better than any other time,'' he said.
The 35-year-old Cruz ranks among the AL leaders in batting average (.325) and RBIs (69).
The homer was Cruz's seventh home run in his last nine games. He has gotten an extra-base hit in nine straight games, one behind the team record set by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993.
''I don't know where we'd be without him. He's hitting .370 with runners in scoring position. It's unbelievable what he's accomplished this year. It's almost jaw-dropping when you see his numbers,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Hernandez pitched seven innings, giving up two runs and six hits. He struck out five and walked one.
The Rangers went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position against him.
''Early, we had him where we wanted him with his pitch count,'' Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. ''In the middle innings, it got away from us a bit. But we also know he's going to get stronger as the games goes on.''
''He is as good as they come in baseball so when you get him, you have to get him early and we didn't,'' he said.
Since 2014, Hernandez is 15-4 with a 2.38 in 29 starts against AL West opponents. In his last six home starts against the AL West, he is 6-0 with a 1.49 ERA.
Carson Smith worked the ninth for his 12th save in 14 opportunities.
Lewis worked eight innings his first complete game, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out six.
Jesus Montero hit a two-run homer off Lewis in the fourth.
The Rangers scored a run in the second on Rougned Odor's slicing RBI double just inside the left-field line. Hernandez's wild pitch in the third gave the Ranges a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners got one back in the third on Ketel Marte's single for his first career RBI.
Prince Fielder, 0 for 17 in his career against Hernandez, singled in his first two at-bats against him.
Texas manager Jeff Banister was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barrett in the eighth for excessive arguing from the dugout. It was his third season ejection.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton, on the DL since May 29 with a strained left middle finger, threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session before the game. There is still no timetable for his next step. OF Franklin Gutierrez missed his second game with flulike symptoms.
Rangers: The club is expected to recall RHP Keone Kela from Double-A Frisco on Tuesday.
Mariners: LHP Vidal Nuno (0-0, 2.88) is looking for his first win with the Mariners, having been acquired June 3 in a trade with Colorado and promoted July 9. In three appearances against Baltimore two starts he is 0-2 with an 11.17 ERA, all with the Yankees.
Rangers: The club has its second off day Monday within a five-day period, providing a respite for the rotation. RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-9, 3.47) will be working on his sixth day between starts Tuesday at Minnesota. He is 1-3 with a 5.45 ERA in his last seven starts. He won his previous start, last Wednesday, 4-3 over Houston, going five innings, giving up four hits and three runs.
Mariners LHP Mike Montgomery, knocked around in his four-inning start Saturday, needs to stick with the game plan, according to McClendon. ''One thing this kid's got to understand, when he came to big leagues he was successful because the catcher threw down a sign and he threw the pitch,'' McClendon said. ''Now he's thinking too much, too much shaking. Not acceptable. Just follow the game plan and pitch.''