Russell Branyan and the Seattle Mariners made their few hits payoff.
Branyan hit a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning to give Felix Hernandez and the Mariners a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.
Branyan drove a 1-0 pitch from Bobby Seay (1-2) into the stands in right-center for his 24th homer – the last of Seattle’s two hits in the game.
“Slider, caught the middle. That’s about it,” said Branyan, who matched his career high in home runs.
Hernandez (11-3) struck out eight in seven innings, allowing one run and six hits. He overcame a slow start and twisting his ankle in the third.
“He battled his pitch count,” Mariners‘ manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He battled and survived to go seven and we could stack up our bullpen with Aardsma and Lowe.”
Mark Lowe pitched a perfect eighth and David Aardsma finished for his 23rd save in 25 chances.
Hernandez gave up a single to Curtis Granderson and a hit-and-run single to Placido Polanco, which sent Granderson to third, to start the game.
“They were jumping on the fastball,” Hernandez said.
But he quickly righted himself to strike out Miguel Cabrera and Clete Thomas. He then walked Marcus Thames before retiring the side on Josh Anderson‘s flyout.
“He’s tough, because he’s got such a good, hard slider,” Anderson said. “He threw me a pitch, the gun said 93 with his slider. I don’t know if he’s got a 90 mph slider, but he did tonight. He threw me a slider, a hard one.”
Hernandez twisted his ankle in third when he tried to catch Thames’ blooper between himself and second basenman Jose Lopez. He fell and was unable to make the play and Thames was credited with a single.
Wakamatsu and trainer Rick Griffin came out and Hernandez stretched and tested the ankle, finally taking a couple of warmup pitches. He only allowed one hit in 4 1-3 innings after that.
And when Branyan hit his home run, Hernandez was jumping for joy in the dugout.
“Rick (Griffin) was like, ‘You’re jumping around. You feel good, huh?”‘ Hernandez said with a smile after the game.
Armando Galarraga matched Hernandez with a terrific outing for the Tigers, yielding one run and one hit in 7 1-3 innings.
“I felt good, really good. Sliders, two-seamers, and my location’s getting better,” he said. “I’m doing good things.”
He walked Jack Hannahan leading off the eighth and retired Ronny Cedeno on a grounder to third before he was replaced by Seay.
Ichiro Suzuki grounded into a shortstop-to-third fielder’s choice before Branyan connected.
Thomas gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the third.
NOTES: Hernandez got his 50th career win. … Detroit 3B Brandon Inge didn’t start because of patella tendinitis in both knees. He entered in the field in the eighth and struck out swinging to end the game. … Wakamatsu said CF Franklin Guiterrez, who bruised his left elbow and left knee attempting to make a leaping catch against the right-center field wall on Tuesday night, could play on Thursday. Gutierrez’s biggest obstacle is a stiff neck. … Tigers OF Carlos Guillen, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, played at Triple-A Toledo on a rehab assignment on Wednesday night. … Wakamatsu said LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, who is at Triple-A Tacoma, will be called up to start Friday’s home game against Cleveland. … Thomas batted cleanup for the first time in his career. … Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera‘s two-out double in the fifth extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games.