It was set to be another landmark start for Felix Hernandez.
He needed only one pitch to put himself in the Seattle Mariners’ record book with his 324th career start, passing Jamie Moyer for the most in club history.
Instead, it was a start he’ll want to forget.
Hernandez overcame the Arizona Diamondbacks’ four-run first to get through 62/3 innings on 106 pitches and somewhat spare a fatigued Seattle bullpen.
But he allowed seven runs (all earned) and a season-high 12 hits as the Arizona Diamondbacks swept the three-game interleague series with an 8-2 victory Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field.
“I made some mistakes,” Hernandez said. “That’s all. Some pitches were out over the middle of the plate and they put a good swing on it.”
It was the Mariners’ fourth loss in their past five games and the fifth consecutive game they’ve allowed at least four runs.
If the Mariners (46-56) want to match their 87-75 record from last season, they’ll need to go 41-19 the rest of the way.
“We got our butts kicked in this series,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “And we’ve got to regroup and go on the road and try to win a game.”
Maybe more frustrating than the loss itself was who supplied the bulk of Wednesday’s damage.
Welington Castillo, who played six games for the Mariners this season, hit two home runs — both off Hernandez (12-6) — and reached base on all five of his plate appearances.
No pitcher in MLB history with at least 25 interleague starts had a better interleague ERA than Hernandez entering Wednesday. He was 18-8 with a 2.27 ERA in 34 interleague starts, and he didn’t allow a run in eight innings in his last one — a 2-0 win against the San Francisco Giants on June 17.
But the Diamondbacks scored as many runs off of Hernandez in the first inning as he had allowed in his past five starts combined.
It came after they scored six runs in 52/3 innings against Hisashi Iwakuma in an 8-4 win Tuesday night.
“They are an aggressive club — you’ve got to make quality pitches,” McClendon said, “and we just didn’t do it the last two days.”
The Diamondbacks (49-51) got their first two runs in the first inning on Paul Goldschmidt’s single and two more on Castillo’s home run to left field.
Hernandez found a groove, retiring seven of the next eight batters before running back into the apparent Felix-killer, Castillo, who homered on the first pitch he saw in the top of the fourth inning to make it 5-0.
Castillo is the sixth player to hit multiple home runs against Hernandez in a game. The catcher was traded from the Mariners in a six-player deal June 3 that netted Seattle Mark Trumbo and Vidal Nuno.
At the time, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said he was parting with a backup catcher for an everyday player in Trumbo.
Since? Castillo is batting .281 as a Diamondback with eight homers and 19 RBIs in 35 games. Trumbo has hit .234 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 42 games for the Mariners.
Seattle got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Brad Miller hit a two-out single the other way to left field, scoring Kyle Seager from third. Miller was playing second base for Robinson Cano, who is day-to-day with an abdominal strain.
But Arizona punctuated the Mariners’ disappointing effort with David Peralta’s two-RBI triple in the seventh on a catchable fly ball to center field. Seattle’s Austin Jackson said he lost the ball in the sun, and it bounced near the warning track between Jackson and right fielder Nelson Cruz.
That allowed Peralta to cruise into third, and Arizona to push its lead to 7-1.
“Just a tough day with the sun,” Jackson said. “Even with glasses on it was tough.”
That could describe this series, one that Jackson said will test the Mariners’ mental toughness.
“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys in here who have played for a while and have been through this kind of roller coaster-type season,” Jackson said. “So we’ve just got to keep playing and weather the storm and believe in ourselves.”
Hernandez walked Castillo after Peralta’s triple, and McClendon replaced him with Nuno.
But Hernandez, who had seven strikeouts, did allow the Mariners to use only Nuno and Fernando Rodney, who pitched a scoreless ninth, out of the bullpen, sparing it before a seven-game road trip that starts Thursday in Minnesota.
Franklin Gutierrez drove in the Mariners’ second run, scoring Jackson with a ground-rule double in the bottom of the eighth after A.J. Pollock pushed Arizona’s lead to 8-1 with an RBI single in the top of the inning.
But on an historic day for Hernandez, there just weren’t many other highlights for the Mariners.
“It’s tough because we know we have the talent here to do it,” Jackson said. “We’ve just got to put everything together, execute the plan and not get down on ourselves.
“Nobody likes to lose, especially when you have the talent like we’ve got in here. Just got to keep playing and hopefully we can turn it around.”
OVERTHROWING THE KING
Players who have hit two home runs in the same game off Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, along with their career homer totals:
May 10, 2015
June 1, 2012
July 16, 2011
Aug. 24, 2008
Aug. 26, 2005