Hernandez (13-11) got an unexpected reprieve Wednesday night as Mike Carp hit a two-run double with two outs in the eighth inning to present the Mariners ace with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
The loss prevented the Angels from gaining ground on first-place Texas in the AL West. The Rangers, who earlier lost to Tampa Bay 5-1, maintained a 3 1/2-game lead.
Hernandez, who allowed five hits, issued one walk and struck out nine, held the one-run lead with a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth complete game of the season and the 18th of his career.
Hernandez won last year's Cy Young Award with a record-low 13 wins. He has received one run of support or fewer in 23 of his 62 starts dating to the beginning of the 2010 season, despite the seventh-lowest ERA (3.54) among AL starters.
"I was real excited about sending Felix out there in the ninth," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's had some tough losses in low-scoring games in his career and this year, too.
"It's a big deal. He's our guy, a true ace, not just a No. 1, a true ace. When he's out there he gives us a very good chance to win the ballgame. Having said that, you've got to score some runs. Our guys stepped up and that means a great deal."
Hernandez dueled with Angels starter Dan Haren (13-8), who gave up five hits in his 7 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
For eight-plus innings, it was a typical Hernandez-Haren matchup. The right-handers had opposed each other three times previously. Coming in, Hernandez was 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 26 strikeouts in his three starts. Haren was 1-1 with a 0.83 ERA and 18 strikeouts.
"I go out there and do what I can. I haven't had the best of luck lately but it was a tough loss for the team," Haren said. "(Hernandez has) got so many different pitches and different looks. He's young ... he's terrific."
Haren could not escape the eighth. With the Angels leading 1-0, the Mariners rallied with two outs. Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley singled, chasing Haren.
Left-hander Scott Downs entered and on a 2-1 pitch, Carp drilled his double to the base of the wall in left-center. That gave him 25 RBIs in August, tying Danny Tartabull for the most by a rookie in any month.
Carp, a left-handed hitter, is hitting .349 with five home runs and 15 RBIs against lefties this season.
"They still got to throw it over plate," Carp said. "I got a pitch I could hit. I had to do my job and get at least one run in. I got two."
Carp had a game-winning two-run homer Monday to beat the Angels 5-3.
Downs entered the game with 20 straight holds.
"He just got behind in the count and missed with a 2-1 sinker," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He left it up and more in the middle.
"Both of those (starters) threw terrific ballgames," he added. "We didn't get much going offensively. We got one run. Against any lineup, you have to keep making pitches and Danny did for the most part. I think those guys battled, pitch by pitch. Hernandez came out on top with a heck of a pitchers' duel."
The Angels' run came in the third. Mike Trout opened with a single to center. Expecting a low-scoring game, Scioscia chose to manufacture a run. He had Jeff Mathis sacrifice Trout to second with a bunt.
Howie Kendrick followed with a two-out single through the left side. Trout scored without a throw.
Hernandez retired 16 of the last 17 batters.
"After that run, I kept putting zeros on the board to give us a chance late in the game," Hernandez said. "That's what we did."
When the Mariners took the lead, Hernandez especially wanted to close it out in the ninth. He struck out the first two batters then Mark Trumbo ended it with a fly ball to the warning track in right.
"(Trumbo has) got big-time power," Hernandez said. "I thought, 'No way, no way.' Finally, it ended."
Aybar had a bunt single in the eighth -- the team's major league-leading 34th -- to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
Ichiro Suzuki went hitless in his four at-bats to end his 13-game hitting streak.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch. ... Scioscia said that RHP Jerome Williams, who has had two strong starts, "definitely has pitched well enough to continue to start." He said the club will adjust the rotation over the final months to rest or move up starters. ... The Mariners will bring up two and possibly three players Thursday when rosters expand. All three are likely to be pitchers. Wedge said two more players will be promoted when the minor league seasons end. ... RHP Ervin Santana (10-9, 3.24 ERA) takes the mound in the final game of the four-game series Thursday. He has worked at least seven innings in his past eight starts, going 6-1. He is 10-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 24 career starts against Seattle. ... Seattle will start LHP Charlie Furbush, who is 2-3 with a 6.48 ERA in his six appearances since arriving in a July 30 trade with Detroit. In his first major league start on July 4, when he was with the Tigers, he lost to the Angels 5-1.