Hernandez (12-3) went eight innings, allowed one run, struck out eight and walked one in the Mariners 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves Tuesday. It was his 15th straight start — dating back to May 18 — in which he worked at least seven innings and allowed two runs or fewer, an on-going big-league record.
Hernandez also tied Gaylord Perry’s 1974 streak with Cleveland when he had 15 straight starts with at least seven innings and allowing two or fewer earned runs. Hernandez threw just 97 pitches without a lot of stressful innings. He wanted the chance at his first complete game in nearly two years but that was enough for McClendon.
Fernando Rodney worked the ninth, allowed a run but earned his 31st save in 34 opportunities.
“It was my decision,” McClendon said. “I’ll continue to do this. I’ll continue to protect my players. I’m trying to win meaningful games in September. I want Felix healthy and strong in September.
“I’m like Frank Sinatra, we’re doing it my way.”
Hernandez, who used to bluster and argue to remain in the game, said he has eased his resistance.
“I appreciate that,” he said. “He said, ‘you’re done.’ I’m done.”
During his 15-game streak Hernandez is just 8-2. His teammates had scored just 10 runs over his previous five starts when he went 1-1 with three no-decisions.
But a fourth-inning error by Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella contributed directly the Mariners go-ahead runs. With the score tie 1-all, two outs and runners on second and third, Chris Taylor popped up behind the first-base bag. La Stella camped under it, leaned back and it caromed off his glove.
“I was frustrated,” Taylor said. “I thought I was right on it. I just got underneath it. I knew guys were on so I wanted to get a hit. Luckily, he dropped it and I was able to get on second in scoring position.”
Both runners scored and Taylor advanced to second. He scored on Austin Jackson’s single to left.
The Braves have lost seven straight.
“It’s just a physical error and you can’t do anything about it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And it did cost us those three runs that scored. Sometimes it’s just the way stuff’s going.”
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager added, “that’s what you’re supposed to do. When you get an opportunity you take advantage of it. We were to get two runs on that one. Then Jackson got a big hit. Four runs with Felix going, that’s a good combination.
Alex Wood (7-9) worked six innings, allowing five hits, just one earned run, walked four and stuck out five.
“I thought he (Wood) pitched terrific,” Gonzalez said. “Getting a couple runs against Felix and you just can’t recover.”
Hernandez lowered his earned run average to a league-leading 1.97. In Interleague play, he has a 17-7 record and is 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA over his last eight starts against National League teams. He has the best ever ERA in Interleague play 2.54.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson were among eight Braves personnel who visited the Seahawks training camp during Monday’s off day. “I got to spend time with Coach (Pete) Carroll a little bit. That was really cool,” Gonzalez said. “We talked a little philosophy afterward. It’s a different shaped ball but you’re still leading men, still managing people.” QB Russell Wilson, who signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers this year, also spent time talking with Upton and Johnson.
Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders (strained left oblique) was expected to go through the full array of drills to determined his fitness. He has been on the DL since July 11. “My hope is that Michael will be able to go out on (rehab) Thursday,” Manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons had to leave the game with one out in the fourth innings when he sprained his left ankle covered the third-base bag. Ramiro Pena replaced him. Simmons will be reevaluated today.