Hernandez helps M's end 20-game skid against AL West

SEATTLE (AP) -- Felix Hernandez heard the mantra as coaches
repeatedly harped that locating his pitches was far more important
than trying to strike everyone out.

Those words seem to be sinking in, and Hernandez flashed the
dominating promise Monday night that the Seattle Mariners have been

Hernandez pitched a five-hitter for his first career shutout,
leading Seattle over the Los Angeles Angels 2-0 and stopping the
Mariners' 20-game losing streak against the AL West.

"Today was really special. It was one of the best games I've
ever had," Hernandez said. "Everything was working really well. I
had strikes with everything."

Hernandez (11-12) threw 70 of 95 pitches for strikes, struck out
four and walked none in his second complete game in 38 major league
starts. All the Angels' hits were singles, and Hernandez retired
his last 10 batters. The game took just 1 hour, 51 minutes, the
fastest in the history of Safeco Field, which opened in July 1999.

Last Wednesday against the New York Yankees, Hernandez gave up
seven earned runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings, his worst major
league start.

"My last outing, I was just trying to throw harder and harder
and harder each time," Hernandez said. "I think that happens to
every pitcher. If you're not hitting the strike zone, you just try
and throw harder."

Hernandez admitted that when he got into trouble against the
Yankees, he called on his strength to try and throw harder, instead
of smarter.

He had not won since Aug. 2 against Baltimore and had lost his
previous three decisions. Frustrated with the way he was throwing,
the 20-year-old accepted suggestions from his manager and pitching

"I think that might have been an awakening," Seattle pitching
coach Rafael Chaves said of Hernandez's prior outing. "I know
Felix is a smart kid and you have to learn from your mistakes. What
happened in the previous outing and what happened tonight ... it
should be the beginning of a lot of good outings just like that."

Seattle's losing streak was the longest against division rivals
since the big leagues split into divisions in 1969. It matched the
1969 Montreal Expos' skid against the NL West for the longest slide
against teams from any division.

Seattle's previous win against an AL West team was June 11, when
it completed a three-game sweep of the Angels. Hernandez won that
game, as well, throwing a four-hitter that required 94 pitches.

The Mariners won their fifth straight, tying their longest
winning streak of the season.

"That was a real special night against a team that has been
playing really well," Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. "Felix
was quick, direct, challenged the hitters and was dominant."

Hernandez was also helped by some outstanding defense, and he
got 17 outs on grounders.

The Angels' best chance came in the first, when Maicer Izturis
tried scoring from second with two outs on Vladimir Guerrero's
infield dribbler to shortstop Willie Bloomquist. Guerrero beat the
throw to first, but first baseman Richie Sexson pivoted and threw
to catcher Kenji Johjima to get Izturis.

In the fourth, Jose Lopez's backhand glove flip to Bloomquist
started a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. Third baseman Adrian
Beltre also made a fine backhanded catch along the railing of the
Angels' dugout.

Hernandez had a trio of seven-pitch innings -- his most pitches
came in the eighth, when he threw 16.

"You can make a pitcher work, but only so far as he will
cooperate," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was pounding
the zone all night."

Kelvim Escobar (9-12) pitched a seven-hitter his first complete
game since June 8, 2003, against Cincinnati but lost his second
straight decision. He struck out nine and walked none, and the
Angels have now scored three runs or less in nine of Escobar's 12
losses this season.

"It's happened to me before," Escobar said. "It didn't really
surprise me."

Seattle got its runs in the fourth. Beltre grounded into the
hole at shortstop with one out and beat Orlando Cabrera's throw.
Raul Ibanez reached for an offspeed pitch and lined it into right
field, advancing Beltre to third.

Sexson then lined a shot off the wall in left to score Beltre.
Escobar struck out Ben Broussard, but Johjima hit a pitch off the
fists with an odd spin that bounced sideways in front of a charging
Cabrera, allowing Ibanez to score on the single.

Sexson's double was the only extra-base hit in the game.

Game notes
It was the ninth game in the major leagues this season with
no walks, the first since the Dodgers and Angels met June 30. ...
The Angels have been shut out six times this year.