video thumbnail

SEA@PIT: Felix dominates over eight to earn fifth win

PITTSBURGH -- Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez and Pittsburgh right-hander A.J. Burnett hooked up in a classic pitching duel, and King Felix and the Mariners prevailed, 2-1, on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.

Jesus Montero's solo home run with one out in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the margin of victory as the Mariners snapped a two-game losing skid.

"Montero stepped up big with that opposite-field home run," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "That's a great sign for him. And [Michael] Saunders [was key] with his energy on the bases, and being heads up and being able to score. Both teams played very well, and it was great for us to get this win and get out of here."

Montero said he was sitting on a fastball when he got the game-winning home run.

"I was looking for a fastball, he pitched me really good the first at-bat," said Montero. "Then in the second at-bat, he went ball, ball, ball. The third at-bat, I was looking for a fastball, and he left it in the middle and I hit it good."

Hernandez was excited about the Montero home run, which was the first ball that left the infield against Burnett.

"I was really happy the dude had a game," Hernandez said. "He came out big, and that was a big fly right there. I was happy for him."

Hernandez tossed eight innings and allowed one run on six hits. He got the win, upping his record to 5-2. Entering the game, Hernandez had allowed just five earned runs in 45 1/3 innings in his last six road starts in Interleague Play.

"The first inning, they got me pretty good and I just left a couple of pitches down the middle," Hernandez said. "I knew it was going to be hard, because Burnett was nasty. And after the first, I just had to get my command back and try and throw strikes, and that's what I did through the course of the game.

"If you don't have your best stuff, you've got to go out there and fight and find different ways to get people out."

The Pirates knew Hernandez wasn't at the top of his game, but he was still very good.

"He threw more fastballs early," Pittsburgh first baseman Garrett Jones observed. "Then probably realized his velocity wasn't there. So he kept mixing it up, without giving us much to hit."

Bucs manager Clint Hurdle was also impressed with Hernandez.

"That's the same Felix who's been showing up for the last few years," Hurdle said. "He never hit that other gear with his velocity, but the spin and sequences were there. The breaking ball to right-handed hitters and changeup to left-handers ... still filthy."

Burnett worked seven innings and gave up two runs on only two hits. He notched nine strikeouts but took the loss, falling to 3-3 on the season.

The Pirates jumped on Hernandez in the top of the first inning. Starling Marte led off with a double down the left-field line. Andrew McCutchen singled with one out, driving in Marte and giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

The Mariners tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the fourth without registering a hit against Burnett. Saunders and Jason Bay drew back-to-back walks. With one out, both runners advanced on a groundout. Saunders then scored on a wild pitch.

"After my first at-bat, I was looking for a fastball down the middle," Saunders said. "His stuff moves all over the place and he throws everything hard, and honestly my approach was [to look for a] fastball right down the middle. I was able to battle on the pitches I needed to, and took the back-foot sliders.

"I'm always looking for the extra base when I get on. I take a lot of pride in my baserunning, and try to look for the edge every time."

Seattle finally got a hit off Burnett in the top of the fifth. Endy Chavez got an infield single and made it to second base on a throwing error by Pirates second baseman Jordy Mercer.

Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen came on and pitched a scoreless ninth inning to secure his ninth save of the season.

Seattle heads home after completing a five-game road trip with a 3-2 record.

"It was big for us," Hernandez said. "We're coming from where we lost in Toronto the last game there and the first game here. We just wanted to win this one so bad."

MLB.com Comments