SEATTLE — A silent attack and a stunning throwing error ruined a terrific outing Friday night by Felix Hernandez as the Mariners’ skid hit four in a 1-0 loss to the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
The only run scored when second baseman Robinson Cano committed a run-scoring throwing error on what loomed as an inning-ending double play in the ninth.
Cano had to throw the ball around a sliding Shin-Soo Choo after taking a throw from shortstop Brad Miller for a force at second on Adrian Beltre’s grounder.
A two-time Gold Glove winner, Cano had committed just two previous errors this season in 62 games before whipping this throw well beyond the reach of first baseman Logan Morrison.
“(Choo) was right there,” Cano said. “That was the only way. I had to hurry, and I pulled it a little bit. And still…I checked that replay. It would have been a bang-bang (play at first).”
That error, and a white-flag attack, proved sufficient to keep the Mariners in their home tumble — they are 14-19 at Safeco — and pin a loss on Hernandez, who carried a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning.
“I did good,” Hernandez said. “We still lost the game. It’s tough.”
It was, in some ways, much like Hernandez’s last start, last Sunday at Tampa Bay, when he struck out a career-best 15 while pitching seven scoreless innings.
Hernandez settled that afternoon for a no-decision because the Mariners didn’t score until two outs in ninth in a 5-0 victory. This time, he suffered his first loss in 10 starts.
Elvis Andrus started the winning rally by grounding a one-out single up the middle before stealing second. He also stole third, when ignored Hernandez, who missed with a full-count pitch to Choo.
Hernandez, 8-2, dismissed the suggestion that fatigue played a factor.
“Not really,” he said. “The difference in the ninth inning was the base-hit by Andrus, and then he stole the two bases. That was the difference.”
The walk to Choo put runners on first and third with one out and prompted a switch to Fernando Rodney, to face Beltre.
“I got what I was looking for,” Rodney said, “to make him hit it on the ground.”
Yes, but it was far from tailor-made. Beltre’s soft hopper, on an 0-2 pitch, forced Miller to move to his right. Still, Miller made a strong throw for the force before Cano threw the ball past Morrison.
“When you get a slow roller on that side,” Texas manager Ron Washington said, “it gives you an opportunity to get up in there and get a piece of the guy. That's what (Choo) did.
“Cano usually doesn't get bothered by that, but he ended up throwing the ball short and Morrison couldn't pick it.”
The error, officially, was assessed because Beltre made it to second base. The run, charged to Hernandez, was an earned run.
Rangers reliever Shawn Tolleson, 2-1, got the victory after pitching the eighth inning. Joakim Soria collected his 14th save by setting down the Mariners in order in the ninth.
Cano made the final out out a weak grounder back to the mound.
One run was enough to beat the Mariners because they turtled against Texas starter Nick Tepesch, who yielded just two hits — both by Mike Zunino — in 6 1/3 innings.
Tepesch settled for a no-decision.
“They threw nine great innings against us,” Zunino said, “and we only threw 8 2/3. It’s one of those things where one out can make a difference.”
And one throw.