Mariners 3, Rangers 1

A Texas Rangers lineup without many of the regulars was no match

for Felix Hernandez.

King Felix allowed one run over eight innings in another

dominating start, maybe his last of the season, and Justin Smoak

hit the tiebreaking homer as the last-place Mariners beat the AL

West champion Rangers 3-1 on Tuesday night.

”I never see the lineup,” Hernandez said. ”I just made good

pitches. I’m just trying to get out of the innings quick.”

Hernandez (13-12) became the first pitcher since Randy Johnson

in 2002 and only the seventh since 1980 to have a season with 30

quality starts (three earned runs or fewer while pitching at least

six innings). The right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.27, best in the

AL.

”He has electric stuff. He can sink it, he can run it, he can

spin it, he can change it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

”And if he smells the finish line, he can get there. ”

Washington opted to rest some of his regulars, giving third

baseman Michael Young, shortstop Elvis Andrus, second baseman Ian

Kinsler and designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero the night off.

Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, the majors’ leading hitter (.361),

has been out since Sept. 4 with two broken ribs. The outfielder

took some swings in the batting cage and shagged some balls during

batting practice before the game and hopes to play this

weekend.

”It doesn’t matter who he’s facing. He wants to compete,”

Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said.

Hernandez struck out five and walked two while pitching into at

least the seventh inning for the 25th consecutive start, extending

his club record. He is 6-3 with an 0.96 ERA (eight earned runs over

75 1-3 innings) his past 10 starts. While Hernandez wants to start

their season finale Sunday, the Mariners still list the starter for

that game as undecided.

”It’s five days on Sunday, I’ve got to pitch,” said Hernandez,

whose 249 2-3 innings are most in the AL, 12 more than CC Sabathia

of the New York Yankees.

Asked if Hernandez has thrown enough innings already, Brown

responded, ”It’s something we’ll look at.”

David Murphy and Bengie Molina both had two hits for Texas. The

rest of the lineup combined for one.

”Nasty old Felix,” Molina said. ” Nasty, very nasty stuff.

… He can control the game whenever he wants to.”

Smoak, part of the July 9 trade that sent left-hander Cliff Lee

to the Rangers, hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Scott Feldman

(7-11) to snap a 1-1 tie. The rookie first baseman’s 12th homer of

the season was his second in as many nights against his former

team.

Brandon League worked the ninth for his sixth save in 12

chances, and his second in a row against Texas.

Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a single, moved to second on

a sacrifice bunt and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by

Franklin Gutierrez.

Smoak’s 413-foot homer onto the hill in straightaway center

field came after Jose Lopez drew a walk to lead off the fourth.

”I wish I would have hit like this when I was here. It was a

changeup out over the plate,” Smoak said. ”Getting one against a

team that traded you is more special. It’s a great win.”

Lopez left the game in the sixth after a hard-hit grounder to

third base ricocheted off his throwing hand. Lopez immediately

started shaking his right hand and even looked down at his fingers

while retrieving the ball without throwing it. Nelson Cruz was

credited with an infield single.

Lopez was grimacing in pain when he walked to the dugout after

dislocating the tip of his middle finger.

The Rangers got their only run in the third on an RBI single by

Murphy.

Feldman, the opening day starter who was later moved to the

bullpen, allowed three runs and five hits over 4 1-3 innings.

With the Rangers planning to go with a three-man starting

rotation of Lee, left-hander C.J. Wilson and right-hander Colby

Lewis in the playoffs, Tommy Hunter will likely work out of the

bullpen. In preparation for that, Hunter made his first relief

appearance in the majors, striking out one of the two batters he

faced after relieving Feldman with a runner at first.

”It was different, I will tell you that,” Hunter said. ”I had

some adrenaline going. I was ready to go after a couple of warmup

pitches. … I’m usually not very worried about a runner at first.

I really did not want him to score.”

Notes: Andres Blanco, who played shortstop for Texas, dislocated

a finger on his glove hand when making a diving stop. He said he is

fine. … The Rangers will have to win their final five games to

reach 92 wins – the mark that team president and co-owner Nolan

Ryan had set as a goal before the season. But they already have

their first division title since 1999. … Mariners INF Mike Carp

has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a partially

torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He sustained the injury

running out a double Saturday at Tampa Bay.