Mariners 6, Padres 1

Felix Hernandez put a giant exclamation point on a rousing
weekend for the Seattle Mariners.

Hernandez tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and the
Mariners completed a three-game sweep with a 6-1 win over the San
Diego Padres on Sunday.

”I felt like he was throwing the ball as good as we’ve seen
this year for a good portion of the game,” Seattle manager Eric
Wedge said. ”He kind of had to grind through it the last couple of
innings.”

Hernandez (5-4) allowed one run and six hits without a walk as
the Mariners won their fifth straight. They held a commanding
advantage over San Diego in runs (14-2) and hits (32-14) while
striking out 35 Padres batters in the series.

”I don’t like to give credit to the opposing pitchers, but
these guys threw well this weekend,” Padres manager Bud Black
said.

The Mariners have allowed two runs or less in their last seven
games. They held the Padres to six hits or fewer in each of the
three games.

”It’s an amazing starting (staff),” Seattle catcher Miguel
Olivo said. ”We just need to put some runs on the board and we’ve
been doing it and winning games.”

Hernandez, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, kept up the
stingy pace. He gave up three singles in the seventh for San
Diego’s only run, but struck out seven of nine batters during one
stretch from the second through the fourth.

”We’ve been doing a great job, and not just the pitchers,”
Hernandez said. ”We’ve been busting it and working hard.”

The right-hander did not walk a batter as he snapped a two-start
skid. Hernandez improved his interleague record to 11-4 with a 2.75
ERA in 20 career starts.

”He’s been doing great,” Olivo said. ”He was very consistent
with the changeup and the slider. He throws good every day, but
(Sunday) he was more consistent.”

Hernandez also struck out 13 last Aug. 10 against Oakland. He
has fanned 10 or more batters 11 times in his career.

”He was good, no doubt about it,” Black said. ”He had all his
weapons and when you stake him a lead, I think he gets stronger.
He’s a front-runner.”

Seattle starting pitchers have gone at least seven innings in
nine straight starts and in 14 of 17 games this month. In the last
seven games, the starters have allowed only four earned runs.

”It’s been outstanding the way these guys have passed the torch
to the next guy for the next start to keep it going,” Wedge said.
”Their focus and preparation have been outstanding.”

Carlos Peguero and Brendan Ryan each had a two-run double to
pace a Mariners offense that came into the game with AL’s lowest
batting average and the second-fewest runs in the majors.

”I feel like it was one of our better games in regards to
getting good at-bats,” Wedge said. ”We left a lot of runners on
early but it kept the heat on.”

San Diego has lost four of five on its eight-game homestand.
During that stretch, the Padres have scored five runs on 29 hits
with 52 strikeouts.

The loss dropped San Diego’s home record to 8-18, worst in the
NL. The Padres have lost 14 of 17 to Seattle at Petco Park.

Tim Stauffer (0-3) gave up three runs and a season-high 10 hits,
including Peguero’s two-run double in the third, over six innings.
The damage could have been worse, but Stauffer stranded nine
runners in the first five innings.

Corey Luebke started the seventh and gave up consecutive singles
to Adam Kennedy and Olivo. Ryan then greeted reliever Luke
Gregerson with a one-out double to drive in two runs and give
Seattle a 5-0 lead.

Olivo had three of Seattle’s 15 hits and scored three runs.
Franklin Gutierrez added an RBI single in the ninth.

San Diego’s only run came after a leadoff single by Chase
Headley in the seventh. With one out, Cameron Maybin singled and
Chris Denorfia’s two-out singled scored Headley.

NOTES: Hernandez became the fourth pitcher in Mariners history
to strike out at least 13 without issuing a walk. The last to do it
was Randy Johnson in 1997. … Hernandez has allowed two earned
runs or less in nine of his 11 starts. … San Diego batters have
struck out 391 times, tops in the majors.