SEATTLE (AP) -- For the first time in weeks, Seattle's Felix Hernandez actually saw runs on the scoreboard in his favor.
Of course, a relative offensive outburst for Hernandez came on a day when the young right-hander needed barely any help.Hernandez allowed just two hits in seven innings, shutting down Detroit's big-budget offense in a 5-0 win over the Tigers on Saturday. It was a league-worst ninth shutout for Detroit, three times their total from all of last year.If not for a pesky calf muscle that cramped and tightened as the afternoon progressed, Hernandez likely could have finished off the shutout himself. As it was, Brandon Morrow and J.J. Putz finished up for Hernandez's first win in six weeks."I'm pretty happy because we won the game," said Hernandez, who had lost his last five decisions. "It'd been a long time since I won a game."April 16 to be exact. That was also the last time Seattle had scored at least four runs to back Hernandez. In his last seven starts, the Mariners had scored just nine runs total for him.But all he needed on Saturday was Kenji Johjima's two-out, two-run single in the first inning. Watching Johjima score likely the most unusual run of his career with a steal of home in the fourth, that was just an extra bonus."That's a catcher, too," Jose Lopez noted.Hernandez became the first Seattle pitcher to silence the Tigers' bats after Detroit spent the first four games this season against the Mariners pounding away. In four losses to the Tigers entering Saturday's game, Seattle pitching had surrendered 37 runs.But with a breaking ball working at its best this season, according to Johjima, Hernandez struck out seven and allowed just four baserunners. He got six of the first nine outs via strikeout before turning things over to the bullpen."We finally scored [Hernandez] a few runs," Seattle manager John McLaren said. "We've been looking for clean games and that's what you call a clean game -- a little defense, a little hitting and great pitching."The Mariners didn't waste time finally getting Hernandez his runs. Facing Detroit's Justin Verlander, who had never lost to Seattle, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the first. Verlander got a huge break when Curtis Granderson made a backhanded diving catch of Adrian Beltre's liner in center and Lopez failed to tag up at third.Johjima made up for the gaffe, though, lining a single to left that fell in front of Marcus Thames and drove in Lopez and Jose Vidro.The Mariners catcher helped Seattle in a more untraditional manner in the fourth. Johjima doubled to open the inning and went to third on Jeremy Reed's groundout, before McLaren gave Miguel Cairo the signal for a squeeze.Johjima took off for home and Verlander's pitch bounced in front of the plate, giving Cairo no chance to lay down a bunt. The ball bounced off the chest protector of catcher Ivan Rodriguez and a few feet in front of the plate, and Johjima awkwardly tumbled around Rodriguez to score."I had the green light," Johjima deadpanned through his interpreter. "There was nothing I could have done, because if I had gone back I would have been out. Fortunately [Rodriguez] dropped the ball twice and that's why I had a chance to be safe."It was Seattle's first steal of home since Raul Ibanez did it on Sept. 12, 2005.Cairo then singled and later scored when Edgar Renteria dropped the transfer of a possible double play ball. Reed added a solo homer in the eighth for Seattle.Verlander (2-8) went seven innings, giving up eight hits and striking out just one. He dropped to 5-1 in his career against Seattle, unable to match what Hernandez kept throwing up on the other side."I thought he was a little hyper the first couple of innings," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "but he gave us a chance."Hernandez at one point retired nine straight before Magglio Ordonez singled to break the string. Detroit's only other base runners off him were a pair of hit batters and Carlos Guillen's single in the first.The Tigers appeared to get another runner on in the sixth, but Granderson was called out at first when it appeared that Cairo's foot had come off the bag fielding Beltre's throw.Both Granderson and Leyland argued with first base umpire Dan Iassogna, and Leyland was ejected."There's nothing embarrassing about being shut out by a guy like him today," Leyland said of Hernandez. "He had great stuff."
The Mariners have won three of four. ... Seattle wore "Marineros" jerseys as part of Salute to Latin America Beisbol Day. ... The Safeco Field roof closed in the second inning after a light rain started falling. It was the 11th time it's been closed this season in 29 home games. ... The Tigers were held to two hits for just the second time in the last two seasons.