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Hernandez's 7-inning gem sends M's over Rays 1-0

Hernandez's 7-inning gem sends M's over Rays 1-0
SEATTLE (AP) - "King Felix" Hernandez is feeling royal in April for the first time.

The Mariners' 23-year-old ace lived up to his nickname by helping his injury riddled team with a seven-inning gem on Thursday night. Ichiro Suzuki gave him the only run he needed by lining James Shields' second pitch of the game for a home run in Seattle's 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Yeah, some guys get all the run support," Ken Griffey Jr. said to Hernandez after the right-hander held the defending American League champions to four hits.

It was the 22nd time a leadoff homer was the deciding run in a game, and it was just the second time it happened for the Mariners. Greg Briley's shot provided the lone run on June 19, 1992, against Minnesota.

The win was the second 1-0 victory of the season for the first-place Mariners, who lead the American League with a team ERA of 3.01. Seattle won only one 1-0 contest all last season, while losing 101 games.

The battered Mariners were coming off their ugliest loss of an otherwise surprising first month. They were starting a fourth-string first baseman, backup catcher Jamie Burke.

The 39-year-old Griffey, batting .171 with two RBIs in 12 games in his return to Seattle, was the only healthy position player on the bench Thursday. He was getting what will be his customary day game off after a night game this season.

Yet Hernandez did what aces are supposed to do in improving to 3-0 for the first time in his five-year career. He bulled through another twisting of his recently sprained right ankle, which he jammed while covering first base on an error by Burke early in the game.

With sliders and sinkers that left the Rays flailing, Hernandez struck out seven and walked three in his first scoreless outing since June 6 at Boston, 23 starts ago.

"He showed you what he can fully be," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "That was special."

Suzuki hit Shields' 1-0 fastball into the right-field bleachers for his 28th leadoff home run in the majors. He said it was his first leadoff homer to win a professional game, dating to his rookie season with Orix in Japan as a teen in 1992.

His other home run this season tied the career hits record for a Japanese player.

"Today was a special case," said Suzuki, who hit seven homers in eight pitches during batting practice. "Even before the game started, we could all tell the type of game it was likely to be. I kept thinking, 'Do you best, Felix! Do your best, Felix!"'

He did, barely trumping Shields (2-2), who walked one and struck out four. It was the second time in four starts he allowed four hits or fewer, yet the Rays lost for the seventh time in nine games.

"The first hitter of the game? The second pitch? I'll take that all day. If that's all I give up in a game, I'm doing my job," Shields said.

Indians 5, Royals 2

At Cleveland, Grady Sizemore hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the eighth inning for the Indians.

Royals starter Gil Meche (1-1) had retired 16 straight batters and took a 2-1 lead into the eighth. An error by second baseman Alberto Callaspo let the tying run score and finished Meche.

Jensen Lewis (2-2) worked two scoreless innings and Kerry Wood pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in as many chances.

Orioles 6, White Sox 2

At Baltimore, Adam Eaton (1-2) took a four-hitter into the eighth inning to earn his first victory with the Orioles, allowing six hits and striking out nine in 7 1-3 innings.

The right-hander left with runners at the corners in the eighth, and Jim Thome ruined the shutout bid with a two-out, two-run single off Jim Johnson.

Bartolo Colon (1-1) gave up five runs, eight hits and two walks in three innings.

Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2

At Toronto, Alex Rios hit a two-run homer, and Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay also connected for the Blue Jays.

Josh Hamilton and Chris Davis hit solo shots for Texas, with six of the game's seven runs coming on homers.

Blue Jays right-hander Scott Richmond (2-0) won back-to-back starts for the first time, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out a career-high eight.

Scott Downs, taking over for injured B.J. Ryan, wrapped it up in the ninth for his first save.

Texas right-hander Kevin Millwood (1-2) gave up four runs and five hits, including three homers.

Angels 10, Tigers 5

At Anaheim, Calif., Matt Palmer pitched into the seventh inning to earn his first major league victory and Torii Hunter hit a go-ahead home run for the Angels.

Palmer (1-0) was charged with five runs - four earned - and six hits, walking three and striking out one. After giving up a leadoff homer to Brandon Inge in the second, the 30-year-old right-hander allowed two more singles in the inning before retiring his next 12 batters.

Edwin Jackson (1-1) gave up six runs - three earned - and eight hits in five-plus innings.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 24, 2009

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