ANAHEIM, Calif. — Felix Hernandez said he was good to go Saturday after being scratched from a scheduled start Friday because of flu-like symptoms. Mostly, he was.
Hernandez pitched seven innings and, with his first strikeout, became the Mariners’ career leader by passing Randy Johnson. But the King couldn’t overcome a long-time nemesis.
Mike Trout’s two-run homer in the sixth inning lifted the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-2 victory over Hernandez and the Mariners at Angel Stadium.
"I tried to go away," Hernandez said, "and it was middle in. You know Trout. Trout is a good player. You can’t miss in."
Say this much: It was no cheapie. Trout’s homer soared 435 feet to center. It was the fifth of his career against Hernandez (1-2) and raised his career batting average against the King to .368 (25-for-68).
"It's a battle each and every time," Trout said. "He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league. For the past couple years, he really dominates. When he's got his stuff working, he's tough to hit."
Trout’s homer was enough, although the Angels added an insurance run in the eighth inning against relievers Tony Zych and Vidal Nuno. Kole Calhoun had a two-out RBI single.
The loss dropped the Mariners back under .500 at 8-9 with only Sunday’s series finale remaining on a nine-game trip that began in New York and continued in Cleveland before reaching Anaheim.
The Mariners twice had one-run leads.
Nelson Cruz broke a 1-1 tie with a one-out homer to left in the sixth inning against Angels starter Hector Santiago. It couldn’t have been more different from the low dart that Cruz hit to left in the 10th inning of Friday’s victory.
This was a high fly that simply kept carrying for 384 feet for Cruz’s fourth homer of the season.
The lead didn’t last long.
Rafael Ortega led off the LA sixth with a single past third, and Trout followed with his cannon shot into the shrubbery beyond the center-field wall.
The Angels led 3-2, which is what reliever Mike Morin inherited from Santiago (2-0) to start the seventh inning.
Morin and Greg Mahle worked the seventh before Joe Smith made things tense in the eighth inning by hitting Robinson Cano and Cruz with two outs. But Seth Smith ended the inning by hitting a hopper back to the mound.
Huston Street pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save.
The Mariners grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second but missed the chance for a big inning after loading the bases with one out. Leonys Martin drove a sacrifice fly to deep center for the run, but Nori Aoki grounded out.
"We ran some long at-bats (against Santiago)," manager Scott Servais said. "We just didn’t end up winning a lot of them. He did. We didn’t finish them.
"We had the bases loaded there early and a chance to get a crooked number up there. It didn’t happen."
Los Angeles got even when Cliff Pennington pulled Hernandez’s first pitch in the third inning into the right-field seats.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Felix Hernandez became the Mariners’ all-time strikeout leader when catcher Chris Iannetta held a 2-2 foul tip by Rafael Ortega for the second out in the first inning.
It was strikeout No. 2,163 for the King.
Hall of Famer Randy Johnson had 2,162 as a Mariner from 1989-98 on his way to finishing with 4,875 in a 22-year career.
"It’s really nice to be up there (with Johnson)," Hernandez said, "but we lost the game. I don’t care about the record. We lost the game."
PLUS: Dae-Ho Lee made two nice scoops at first base for outs in the second inning…Nelson Cruz hit a homer for the second straight game. His 13 homers at Angel Stadium since 2007 match Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre for the most hit by an opposing player in that span.
MINUS: Adam Lind was thrown out for the second straight game when trying to stretch a single into a double. This time, he sent a drive off the center-field wall with one out in the seventh inning, but Mike Trout made a strong throw to second for the out…lefty Vidal Nuno allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth by giving up a two-out single to Kole Calhoun, a left-handed hitter.
STAT PACK: Ex-Mariners farmhand Ji-Man Choi started at first base for the Angels got his first big-league hit when he grounded a two-out single up the middle in the seventh inning against Felix Hernandez. Choi then got picked off and caught stealing before Hernandez made a pitch to the next batter.
QUOTABLE: Felix Hernandez said he experienced no fatigue in his 104-pitch effort despite being scratched Friday from a scheduled start: "No not really. (I felt) really good."
"I was bad," he said. "I don’t like to miss any games."
SHORT HOPS: The play that Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons made on Nori Aoiki’s leadoff grounder in the eighth was breathtaking. Simmons made a nice backhand stop in the hole, but the key was the speed of getting the ball from his glove to his hand and making the throw.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners