Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez works against the Tampa Bay Rays during fifth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, June 3, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez works against the Tampa Bay Rays during fifth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, June 3, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

M’s come back to give King Felix 2-1 win over Rays

Seattle continues surprisingly strong start to season

SEATTLE — Felix Hernandez was in vintage form, allowing one run in eight innings, and run-scoring singles from Denard Span and Dee Gordon gave the Seattle Mariners a comeback 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

The Mariners completed the three-game series sweep despite a great start from Rays lefty Blake Snell, who struck out 12 — including the first seven batters he faced to tie an American League record — in six scoreless innings.

Hernandez (6-4) pitched into the eighth for the first time this season. He gave up five hits and one walk against seven strikeouts, tying his season high. His one run allowed was his fewest since he threw 5 1/3 scoreless against the Indians in the season opener.

Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 21st save.

Snell, who was born in Seattle and pitched for nearby Shorewood High School, matched the opening strikeout mark set by Joe Cowley of the White Sox on May 28, 1986, and also reached by Carlos Rodon for the White Sox on Sept. 30, 2016. He was one shy of the major league record held by Jim Deshaies and Jacob deGrom. Snell also tied a club record for most consecutive strikeouts at any point during a game. He allowed two hits and did not walk a batter.

Brad Miller’s RBI double in the fourth gave the Rays a 1-0 lead, but the Mariners offence pulled ahead in the eighth against reliever Jose Alvarado (0-2).

Ryon Healy led off with a walk for the Mariners. Tampa Bay first baseman Brad Miller had Alvarado’s throw bounce off his glove on Guillermo Heriedia’s sacrifice bunt attempt, putting runners on first and third with no outs.

Span tied the game with his RBI single, and two batters later Gordon put the Mariners ahead with a bloop single.

Hernandez got into a bases loaded jam with one out in the fifth inning, giving up two singles and hitting a batter. He struck out Joey Wendle and then gloved Matt Duffy’s sharp comebacker to the mound to end the inning. After tossing the ball to first for the out, Hernandez jumped and yelled in celebration.

Hernandez only gave up one other baserunner in his final three innings, and retired the final eight batters he faced.


Rays: RHP Chris Archer left Saturday’s start after five innings due to tightness in his groin. On Sunday he said he might miss his next start. “It’s questionable,” Archer said. “I’m going to do everything I can to be out there, but not do anything silly to over exert myself.” . DH C.J. Cron left the game with a right forearm contusion after being hit by a Hernandez pitch in the fifth inning.

Mariners: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, recovering from major shoulder surgery last year, threw a bullpen session Saturday which had been delayed due to a stiff neck. Manager Scott Servais said Iwakuma is “back on track” and will face live hitters in a throwing session soon.


Rays: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will face the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday. Eovaldi will be making his second start since August 10, 2016. In his season debut May 30, Eovaldi threw six hitless innings against Oakland.

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (4-1, 3.13 ERA) starts against the Astros in Houston on Tuesday. Paxton was 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in May. He is coming off a no-decision against Texas, when he gave up two runs on four hits in five innings.


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Daimon Eklund, The Associated Press