CHICAGO -- Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez experienced the perils of pitching to the most powerful team in the Major Leagues on Tuesday night. He surrendered more than one home run for only the second time this season and absorbed a 5-0 loss to the White Sox in front of 26,414 at U.S. Cellular Field, marking Seattle's fifth straight defeat. But even more surprising than Hernandez surrendering two homers in a game was the fact he did not strike out a batter in his five-inning outing -- the second time that has happened in his 97-start big league career. The other time was on April 18, 2007, when he had to leave his start against the Twins at Safeco Field with one out in the first inning because of an injury that put him on the disabled list.
"I didn't realize that until you told me, but you have to remember that's a heckuva ballclub over there," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "He had two strikes on a few guys and didn't finish them off, but if we can get more outs without strikeouts, it would keep the pitch count down, so it's not necessarily a bad thing." The only thing that hurt more than Hernandez's pride was a wicked one-hop drive off the bat of Juan Uribe in the fourth inning. The ball hit the right-hander's previously injured left ankle for an infield single. The Seattle training staff checked him out, and Hernandez shook it off, finished out that inning, plus one more. He should be able to make his next scheduled start. The determination that he showed was commendable, and he discovered what other pitchers have found to be the case this season. "It's a tough lineup," Hernandez said of the American League Central leaders. "They hit a lot of homers, and when you make a mistake, you're going to pay for it." After the Mariners squandered a two-on, no-out situation in the first inning, they fell behind in the second on a double, single and sacrifice fly from Ken Griffey Jr. Seattle dropped two more runs behind in the third inning on two doubles and a single. Leadoff home runs in the fourth and fifth innings by Nick Swisher and Jim Thome, respectively, increased the Mariners' deficit to five runs. They were the 183rd and 184th homers of the season by Chicago, which leads the Major Leagues. The only other time Hernandez surrendered more than one long ball in the same game was against the Angels on April 11 in Seattle. But that wasn't so bad, because he and the Mariners won the game. But wins have been few and far between most of the season, and the 22-year-old old is frustrated. "This was supposed to be a good season, and everything has gone wrong," Hernandez said. "When we hit good, we don't pitch good. When we pitch good, we don't hit good. But we have to stick together and keep working hard and try to win some games. "It has been a tough year for us, and I think we're trying to do too much. We need to relax a little bit, including myself. I tried to do too much tonight. I made some good pitches, but they got hits on them." Hernandez (7-8) saw his record dip under the .500 mark, joining fellow starters Jarrod Washburn (5-13), Carlos Silva (4-14), and Miguel Batista (4-12) in that department. Hernandez surrendered 11 hits before departing after five innings and 100 pitches. The top of the first inning set the tone for the middle game of the three-game series. Ichiro Suzuki reached second on a two-base throwing error by pitcher Clayton Richard, and he went to third on Miguel Cairo's single to right field. Ichiro didn't get a good read on the line drive, which prevented him from scoring. Raul Ibanez grounded into a first-to-home double play, keeping the game scoreless. And after Adrian Beltre walked, Jose Lopez grounded into a force out. "I just want to keep putting them out there," Riggleman said. "Eventually we're going to get them in. If we can keep getting men on third with less than two outs, sooner or later we're going to really put it together and finish off those innings and get those runs in." Riggleman pointed out that early in the season the Mariners rarely put runners on third base with fewer than two outs. "I would rather focus on the fact we're getting them out there," the manager said, "instead of not getting them in." Richard, who had to be elated to get out of the first inning without allowing any runs, held the Mariners to four more hits through six innings. Three White Sox relievers took it from there, helping Richard notch his first Major League win. "After we didn't put him away there in the first inning, he settled down," Riggleman said. "He's a young guy, and we might have been able to rattle him a little bit, but he got out of that inning and shut us down."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.