Hernandez dazzles as Mariners blank AthleticsJul 8, 2007 - 12:29 AM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- Adrian Beltre spoiled Rich Harden's return to the starting rotation.
Beltre belted a three-run homer and Felix Hernandez pitched eight stellar innings as the Seattle Mariners blanked Harden and the Oakland Athletics, 4-0, on Saturday.
Beltre, who collected a career-high five hits - including two home runs - in Seattle's 7-1 victory Friday, struck early against Harden, who was making his first start since April 15.
Harden (1-2) started the second inning by walking Jose Guillen and Richie Sexson. That set the stage for Beltre, who belted a 1-1 offering over the left field wall for a 3-0 advantage.
It was Beltre's 13th homer of the season and third in less than 24 hours.
"I've been swinging the bat the same way for the last six or seven weeks," Beltre said. "I think that I'm just taking advantage of the pitches that I've been getting over the plate and putting good swings on them."
"Bel is getting on a roll, and it's good to see," Mariners manager John McLaren said. "He's been working real hard, and it's showing. I feel good for him because he has a passion for the game second to none."
In his last start, Hernandez (5-4) allowed two runs in eight innings but did not factor in the decision against the Kansas City Royals on Monday. In this one, he did not allow a hit until Mark Ellis came up with a two-out single in the fifth.
"I was just trying to throw strikes," Hernandez said. "My two-seamer was going pretty good today. I think that's why they hit so many ground balls. I had my change working as well. Overall, I felt like everything was working."
Since coming off the disabled list on May 15, Hernandez had gone 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA in seven starts. Prior to suffering the right elbow strain that sidelined him, the 21-year-old was 2-1 with a 1.56 ERA.
"I can see Felix getting back to his game before the setback," McLaren said. "Let's not forget he's only 21 years old. With his skills, there's no telling how good he can be."
Hernandez was in excellent form Saturday, limiting the Athletics to two hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts. The righthander improved to 2-0 against Oakland this year, having also tossed eight scoreless innings while yielding just three hits and striking out a season-high 12 on Opening Day.
"Hernandez was as good as he was Opening Night," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "He pitched real well. He had a great start to the season, and then he had a little bit of an injury, but it looks like he's back."
Harden, who had made three relief appearances since being activated from the DL on June 21, allowed four runs and four hits while walking four and striking out only one in 2 2/3 innings. The oft-injured righthander labored in his short outing, throwing 66 pitches - 37 for strikes.
"My location was a little bit off," Harden said. "I was getting too many pitches up. We'll see how I feel (Sunday)."
"He threw the ball pretty good," Geren said. "He just didn't exactly feel right and he'll be evaluated (Sunday) to see if he's had any setback. That's yet to be determined. He was throwing the ball 96 miles per hour but just didn't feel exactly right. We're all hoping that when he comes in he'll be feeling fine."
Jose Vidro singled and scored on Jose Guillen's groundout in the third to cap the scoring for Seattle. The Mariners improved to 6-2 against the Athletics this season after going just 2-17 last year.
Lenny DiNardo relieved Harden with two on and two out in the third but struck out Yuniesky Betancourt to prevent further damage. The lefthander, who had been filling a gap in the Athletics' rotation, kept Seattle at bay thereafter, surrendering just three hits and two walks while striking out five in 6 1/3 innings.
Shannon Stewart singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 13 games for Oakland, which has dropped eight of its last 14.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
SEATTLE 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 8 0
OAKLAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: SEA - FELIX HERNANDEZ, GEORGE SHERRILL (9TH) AND JAMIE BURKE
OAK - RICH HARDEN, LENNY DINARDO (3RD) AND JASON
HOME RUNS: SEA - ADRIAN BELTRE (13) OFF RICH
Jul 7 6:21 PM
AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
GROUND OUT BY JOSE GUILLEN SCORED JOSE VIDRO.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R IBANEZ ON SECOND, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 4
OAKLAND 0 TOP, 3RD
DUE UP FOR SEATTLE: R SEXSON (.210, 0-FOR-0, BB)
Mariners vs. AthleticsJul 7 4:45 PM
AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY ADRIAN BELTRE (13) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT
IN THE 2ND OFF RICH HARDEN SCORED JOSE GUILLEN AND RICHIE SEXSON.
CURRENT SCORE: SEATTLE 3, OAKLAND 0
DUE UP FOR SEATTLE: Y BETANCOURT (.275, 4 HR, 30 RBI)
Mariners vs. AthleticsJul 7 4:26 PM
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