SEATTLE (AP) — Even Seattle's "King" couldn't stop the Mariners' slide. In fact, the problems just keep building for the Mariners.
Nelson Cruz hit his 12th homer of the season, David Murphy drove in three runs and the Texas Rangers roughed up Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in a 5-2 win on Saturday night, handing the Mariners their eighth straight loss.
Hernandez (5-4) was trying to rebound from a poor outing in his last start at Cleveland, but continued to leave pitches up in the zone and Texas took advantage. Murphy's two-out double in the second gave Texas a 3-0 lead and Cruz added his solo homer — also with two outs — in the fifth inning.
Seattle's losing streak is its longest since dropping 17 straight in 2011.
"This is where you've got to be tough. You've got to stay determined, stay persistent, keep coming to the ballpark and knocking on that wall," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
As if the losing streak wasn't bad enough, Seattle announced after the game that first baseman Justin Smoak suffered an oblique strain checking his swing after an at-bat early in the game. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the later innings and will be re-evaluated before Sunday's series finale against the Rangers.
Smoak's health is a concern, but more important might be figuring out what's happened to Hernandez in his last two starts.
Derek Holland continued to pitch well in Seattle, easily getting the better of the matchup against Hernandez. Holland (4-2) went 6 2-3 innings, striking out a season-high 10, allowing no earned runs and winning for the first time since May 8 after a pair of no decisions.
Meanwhile, Hernandez was done after 5 2-3 innings, unable to close out the sixth after giving up a triple to Leonys Martin and walking Elvis Andrus. Hernandez finished with nine strikeouts, but the 11 hits were a season high, giving up at least one hit in every inning.
According to STATS, it's just the second time since the 2010 season that Hernandez has failed to go at least six innings in consecutive starts, after lasting just five innings in his previous start at Cleveland. He went 4 innings and 4 2-3 innings in consecutive starts in September 2012.
Hernandez has been bothered by a sore back, but insisted his health is fine.
"I feel fine. It's not that," Hernandez said.
Texas didn't pound the ball early against Hernandez. None of the first five hits he allowed were hit hard yet were enough that he was quickly trailing. Mitch Moreland opened the second inning with a dribbler down the left field line past the Mariners defensive shift, followed by A.J. Pierzynski's grounder on a hit-and-run that got by Seager playing close at third.