Nelson Cruz hit his 12th homer of the season, David Murphy drove in three runs and the Texas Rangers roughed up Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in a 5-2 win on Saturday night, handing the Mariners their eighth straight loss.
Hernandez (5-4) was trying to rebound from a poor outing in his last start at Cleveland, but continued to leave pitches up in the zone and Texas took advantage. Murphy's two-out double in the second gave Texas a 3-0 lead and Cruz added his solo homer also with two outs in the fifth inning.
Seattle's losing streak is its longest since dropping 17 straight in 2011.
"This is where you've got to be tough. You've got to stay determined, stay persistent, keep coming to the ballpark and knocking on that wall," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
As if the losing streak wasn't bad enough, Seattle announced after the game that first baseman Justin Smoak suffered an oblique strain checking his swing after an at-bat early in the game. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the later innings and will be re-evaluated before Sunday's series finale against the Rangers.
Smoak's health is a concern, but more important might be figuring out what's happened to Hernandez in his last two starts.
Derek Holland continued to pitch well in Seattle, easily getting the better of the matchup against Hernandez. Holland (4-2) went 6 2-3 innings, striking out a season-high 10, allowing no earned runs and winning for the first time since May 8 after a pair of no decisions.
Meanwhile, Hernandez was done after 5 2-3 innings, unable to close out the sixth after giving up a triple to Leonys Martin and walking Elvis Andrus. Hernandez finished with nine strikeouts, but the 11 hits were a season high, giving up at least one hit in every inning.
According to STATS, it's just the second time since the 2010 season that Hernandez has failed to go at least six innings in consecutive starts, after lasting just five innings in his previous start at Cleveland. He went 4 innings and 4 2-3 innings in consecutive starts in September 2012.
Hernandez has been bothered by a sore back, but insisted his health is fine.
"I feel fine. It's not that," Hernandez said.
Texas didn't pound the ball early against Hernandez. None of the first five hits he allowed were hit hard yet were enough that he was quickly trailing. Mitch Moreland opened the second inning with a dribbler down the left field line past the Mariners defensive shift, followed by A.J. Pierzynski's grounder on a hit-and-run that got by Seager playing close at third.
Jurickson Profar then dumped a 0-2 sinker over the infield to score Moreland. Pierzynski was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning, but Murphy made sure the opportunity wasn't missed with his double to score Profar and Andrus.
Hernandez then allowed Cruz's homer in the fifth immediately after getting a double play off the bat of Adrian Beltre.
"We just haven't missed opportunities when he threw the ball in the strike zone," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's at his best when he can get you to chase some pitches. ... Tonight, when he threw some balls across the plate we were fortunate enough to put them into play."
Holland had gone 21 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Mariners at Safeco Field before giving up a two-out, two-run double to Kendrys Morales in the third inning. Holland would not have faced Morales, if not for Elvis Andrus' error on a grounder from Michael Morse. With Morse reaching, Morales lined a 0-2 fastball off the top of the wall in right field, missing a home run by only a few feet and Morse racing around from first to score and cut the deficit to 3-2.
That ended up being the extent of Seattle's offense against the Texas lefty. Holland struck out the side in the fourth and got Jason Bay and Kyle Seager swinging in the fifth after Brendan Ryan's leadoff single. Holland retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced. He couldn't finish off the seventh, getting replaced with two outs after issuing a walk to Bay. Robbie Ross entered and got Seager to pop out on the first pitch.
Holland is now 3-0 in his career against the Mariners in Seattle and has yet to allow an earned run against the Mariners in Seattle. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
NOTES: Texas is 7-2 against Seattle this season. ... Hernandez is now 12-18 all-time against Texas. The Rangers are one of three American League teams that Hernandez has a losing record against. The others are the Angels (7-12) and White Sox (3-5). ... Nathan converted his 36th straight save opportunity on the road.