Hernandez holds down A's, pitches Seattle to victory

OAKLAND, Calif. &

The Seattle Mariners had one complaint with Felix Hernandez: He tried to barehand another ball. And manager John McLaren will discuss it with him.

Hernandez found success with all four of his pitches and commanded the inside of the plate, throwing his first complete game in more than a year to lead the Mariners past the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Wednesday night.

"It was a great game. In the eighth inning, he asked me how I felt and I said, 'I'm good,'" Hernandez said. "What's it mean? It's good. It mean's a lot for the pitchers."

Hernandez struck out eight in an eight-hitter, retiring 16 of 18 during one stretch. He threw 115 pitches in a game that took only 2 hours, 9 minutes.

Jose Vidro hit a two-run double off Joe Blanton, Adrian Beltre doubled twice and drove in a run, and Raul Ibanez had three hits, an RBI and scored twice for Seattle.

Hernandez (2-0) lowered his ERA from 1.66 to 1.52. He already held a 3-0 lead when he took the mound in the bottom of the first, then went out and showed that he can be the ace of the Mariners' staff with Erik Bedard on the disabled list.

The A's dropped their fifth straight to Seattle dating to last season, matching their longest skid against the Mariners also done from June 21 to Sept. 22, 1998. Seattle has won six consecutive games at the Coliseum for the Mariners' most victories in a row in Oakland.

Bobby Crosby scored on an error by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt in the second for Oakland's first run. Betancourt threw wildly past first base for an error on Kurt Suzuki's infield single, a ball that hit Hernandez's hand before Betancourt fielded it.

"Obviously we don't like the bare hand stuck out there," McLaren said. "Let's just say we'll talk to him again."

After that hit, Hernandez retired 13 of his next 14 batters and didn't allow another hit until Jack Cust's single to start the seventh. Hernandez improved to 7-2 with a 2.10 ERA in his nine starts against the A's, his most wins versus any club.

"That was one of the best pitched games I've seen. He was tough," Oakland manager Bob Geren said.

The A's got three hits off Hernandez in the eighth, including Daric Barton's two-out RBI single. Hernandez then retired Mike Sweeney on a called third strike after falling behind 3-0 to finish his strong outing. The right-hander &

who didn't give up an earned run in either of his first two starts but got no-decisions &

pitched his first complete game since a 3-0 win at Boston on April 11, 2007.

"He's grown up a lot this past year," Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima said through a translator. "He still gets very emotional. That's his pitching style and that's good. If he can control his emotions, he will become one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. When I was 20, I couldn't control my emotions either. It's something you learn from experience."

Blanton (1-3), making his fifth start after pitching the major league opener in Japan last month, dropped to 0-3 at home this season.

The right-hander was tagged for four runs and matched his career high by giving up 12 hits, which he also did against the Mariners last July 8. He struck out two, and didn't walk a batter for the first time this season.

Blanton had allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his first 12 starts against Seattle, but fell behind in a hurry with a shaky first inning.

Ichiro Suzuki singled to start the game, then Jose Lopez grounded out before three straight hits by Seattle &

Ibanez's RBI single followed by back-to-back doubles by Beltre and Vidro.

Beltre hit his second double and sixth of the year to drive in a run in the third.

"A lot of times when you're facing a pitcher like that, three runs early can be pretty devastating," Blanton said. "Basically the only thing you can tell yourself is don't give up any more and keep it close."

The Mariners were 14-5 against the A's last season after a 2-17 showing versus Oakland in 2006. The losses were the most ever by the A's against one team in a single season.

Notes: Jack Hannahan ended an 0-for-16 stretch with a single in the eighth for the A's. ... The Mariners recalled reliever Brandon Morrow from Double-A West Tenn to fill the roster spot left open when Bedard went to the DL on Tuesday with hip inflammation.

... The A's returned RHP Fernando Hernandez, a Rule 5 draft pick, to the Chicago White Sox. ... Oakland RHP Justin Duchscherer, on the 15-day DL with a strained right biceps, could pitch in a minor league rehab game as soon as Monday.

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