PITTSBURGH (AP) – Felix Hernandez settled down after a shaky start and picked up his first victory in more than two months when the Seattle Mariners topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4 on Tuesday night.
Hernandez (5-4) gave up four runs – all in the first two innings – and struck out three in six innings in his first win since May 21. Steve Cishek worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save.
Kyle Seager’s three hits for Seattle included his 20th home run, and Franklin Gutierrez added his 10th off Francisco Liriano (6-10).
Liriano hit his second career home run, a 416-foot shot to center off Hernandez in the second inning, but saw his mild resurgence this month take a significant step back. Liriano surrendered seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings as his ERA jumped to 5.38.
Gregory Polanco collected a season-high four hits, including his 13th homer, but the Pirates left nine men on base and went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Hernandez spent nearly two months on the disabled list due to a strained right calf and hardly looked like his dominant self while slogging through 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox last Wednesday.
It looked like more of the same early. Polanco’s shot to center field just cleared the wall in the first. Starling Marte drilled an RBI triple off the wall in right and Jung Ho Kang added a run-scoring groundout to stake Liriano to a quick 3-0 lead.
When Liriano sent a Hernandez offering into the bushes beyond center in the second, the Pirates appeared to be in command with a 4-1 advantage.
Liriano came in off perhaps his best start of the year, striking out 13 against no walks in a win over Milwaukee last week. But the control issues that have dogged him this season resurfaced. He threw nearly as many balls (34) as strikes (38) while walking four. The pitches he did get around the plate were often hammered. Gutierrez homered leading off the third and Seager tied it at 4 four batters later.
An RBI double by Shawn O’Malley and a run-scoring single by Robinson Cano helped chase Liriano in the fourth. An RBI groundout by Nelson Cruz against Jared Hughes gave the Mariners a three-run lead and gave Hernandez time to settle down.