CLEVELAND -- Inning after inning, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez put himself into situations stickier than the thick late-August air that hung over Progressive Field on Friday night. "Not even one inning was easy for me," Hernandez said. As far as the final box score was concerned, it was a case of easier done than said for the Seattle ace.
Hernandez's gutsy outing, combined with a strong effort from the bullpen and yet another big day from Raul Ibanez, powered the Mariners past the Indians, 3-2, before 26,047 fans. The win snapped the Indians' 10-game winning streak and gave the Mariners their fifth win in their last seven games. "You can see why [the Indians] have won 10 in a row," manager Jim Riggleman said. "They made a guy who threw great stuff up there work like crazy to get outs." Hernandez hasn't had to work like crazy most of the season because his stuff has been so great. Coming into Friday, the 22-year-old right-hander hadn't made it past the fifth inning just once this season and carried one of the lowest ERAs in the American League. But to maintain both those statistics, Hernandez had to work extra hard in his six innings of work Friday, allowing at least two runners to reach base in his first five innings and ultimately tossing 114 pitches -- three shy of his season high. "Like a lot of teams in the American League, they made him throw a lot of pitches on a hot, muggy night and wore him down," Riggleman said. "He really battled and made the pitches when he had to." Staked to an early 1-0 lead, Hernandez had to go to work right away when he allowed back-to-back leadoff singles to Grady Sizemore and Jamey Carroll. But he quickly stifled the rally, striking out David Dellucci and forcing Jhonny Peralta to ground into a double play. He encountered similar trouble in the next inning, as he put two runners on with a walk and a single. But another ground-ball double play -- this one against Kelly Shoppach -- ended the threat with another zero on the board. "I made the pitches I had to make to get out of jams," Hernandez said. Now with the comfort of a 3-0 lead, Hernandez didn't make every pitch he needed to in the third and fourth inning. He allowed the Indians to manufacture a run in the third and another on a Shin-Soo Choo RBI double in the fourth. Still, with the Tribe putting its first two runners on base in those particular innings, Hernandez showed enough poise to minimize the damage and keep the Mariners on top throughout his outing. After a 55-minute rain delay put off the game's first pitch, the Mariners cracked Indians starter Jeremy Sowers early to take a one-run edge in the first inning. Ichiro led off the game with a single then came to around to score -- after picking up his 40th stolen base of the season -- on an Ibanez single. Ibanez gave Hernandez a little breathing room in the fourth inning with a two-run homer -- his team-best 22nd of the season -- to left-center field, which scored Yuniesky Betancourt and tacked on another home run to his impressive August numbers. "Raul has been outstanding for us," Riggleman said. "He's making a case to be player of the month in August." With his 2-for-4 night Friday, Ibanez is batting .388 with seven homers and 29 RBIs this month. Could have fooled him. "You play so many games, they kind of run together, so I really don't think about that stuff," Ibanez said. "I just go out there and prepare." Roy Corcoron made his first inning look easier than he could have prepared for, retiring the side in order on 10 pitches. As for the eighth inning, Corcoron had to battle, but like Hernandez, he went back to the dugout unscathed. After allowing Dellucci to get on with a leadoff single, Corcoron forced Jhonny Peralta to ground into a double play. Corcoron then put runners on the corners after back-to-back singles before Franklin Gutierrez flied out to end the Tribe's final threat. J.J. Putz had no such dilemma, retiring the Tribe in order in the ninth to pick up his 10th save of the season. "I really think the ballclub is making a lot of progress in a lot of areas," Riggleman said. "It's not showing up in the standings right now, of course, but we feel really good about a lot of things that are happening right now."
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.