Vargas (5-4) not only kept pace with Hamels, he exceeded and outlasted him in his third career complete game. He allowed just two singles and six baserunners. After a two-out walk to Carlos Ruiz in the fourth, he retired the next 15 batters until Ryan Howard's two-out single in the ninth brought up Ben Francisco as the potential tying run.
That's when manager Eric Wedge, with closer Brandon League ready in the bullpen, came out for a visit.
"We had Leaguer ready for that matchup," Wedge said. "I had a pretty good idea what to do but I wanted to look him in his eyes as well. It was his ballgame."
Even though Vargas was approaching what would be a season-high 119 pitches, Wedge stayed with him.
"It's the first time I've had a manager in the ninth leave me in," Vargas said. "It's nice he has that confidence in me."
Vargas retired Francisco on a fly to center as the Mariners took two of three from the Phillies.
"For Wedgie to come out there with those crazy eyes and say, 'I'm sticking with you, let's get this done' -- awesome," shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "That's great stuff from the manager."
Howard said Vargas "mixed it up well. He didn't necessarily have to throw stuff for strikes. He threw enough for strikes to where it got us a bit out of our element. Guys were out in front of pitches."
The Mariners have eight shutouts this season. It was the fifth time the Phillies have been blanked. It's also the fifth time they have been held to three hits or fewer.
"He was in control and command the entire day," Wedge said. "He used all his pitches. Great command. His tempo was good. His temperament is always good. That last inning he went through the heart of their lineup, having made more than 100 pitches. It was a great effort and concentration on his part."
Hamels (9-3) was denied in his attempt to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins. It also ended his career-best five-game winning streak. He gave up two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked none.
Hamels, third in the NL in ERA coming in at 2.49, allowed just a pair of two-out singles through the first five innings.
The Mariners finally rallied rather innocently against him in the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki reached on a bad-hop single off first baseman Howard with one out. Suzuki broke for second on Ryan's left-side groundout, preventing a possible double play and giving the Mariners their first runner to reach second.
"Against him, you have to grind every at-bat. To get that first one across was big," Smoak said. "I knew it had a chance. He threw a cutter inside and it got in on me. It's one of those things. Luck was on my side today."
The Mariners added another run in the seventh. Dustin Ackley, who made his big league debut Friday, tripled to lead off the inning. With the infield in, Franklin Gutierrez bounced out to shortstop with Ackley holding. Pinch hitter Adam Kennedy then dropped in an RBI single at the feet of left fielder Michael Martinez.
Hamels said his intention was to pitch around Kennedy to set up a double-play situation.
"I did not want to necessarily lay a pitch right down the middle," Hamels said. "I made a good pitch and he was just able to get it where we weren't."
In three games, Ackley, the second player selected in the 2009 draft, has singled, tripled and hit a home run.
"Someone told me I need a double," Ackley said. "Maybe that happens tomorrow, I don't know."
Wedge said Ackley, "has come up here and contributed. That's the greatest compliment I can give him."
The Mariners had to scramble to keep the Phillies off the scoreboard in the first. After Vargas struck out Chase Utley to seemingly end the inning, Philadelphia got a break when catcher Miguel Olivo let the ball get through his legs and Utley reached first. Howard then singled to center before Vargas threw a wild pitch, allowing both runners to advance.
Francisco then lofted a ball into shallow left-center. Left fielder Greg Halman ran a long way and caught it on a slide.
In the fourth, the Phillies had a threat with runners on first and second and one out. Raul Ibanez lined out to third baseman Chone Figgins, who quickly threw across the diamond to double up Ruiz at first.
The Phillies entered the game with the best winning percentage against left-handed starters at .750. They were 15-5. The Mariners had the worst percentage against lefties in the American League at .368, going 7-12. ... The crowd of 45,462 was the second sellout at Safeco Field and first since opening day.