SEATTLE (AP) - From the yellow shirts to the K-cards handed out to fans in attendance, Thursday night was all set to be a party in honor of Felix Hernandez.
It nearly turned into a nightmare for the Seattle Mariners.
Hernandez allowed three earned runs, was knocked around for 10 hits by Texas' potent lineup and the Mariners lost their third straight 4-3 to the Rangers.
What was already a disappointing night for Seattle got a bit worse when slugger Michael Morse was forced to leave the game in the seventh inning after getting hit with a pitch on his right hand as he attempted to check his swing.
In the only bit of good news the Mariners received, Morse's injury is not serious. He has a small fracture in his right little finger and manager Eric Wedge expects him to miss a week or less.
``I feel fine. I've had a lot worse thing than this,' Morse said. ``It's one of those freakish things.'
Morse initially stayed in the game and got hit in the shoulder on the next pitch from Tanner Scheppers. After getting to first base and taking off his batting glove, Morse called for the trainer and left the game.
Seattle is already down outfielder Michael Saunders, who went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. Morse has no intention of being out that long.
``I'm hoping by Sunday. ... I'm going to try to rehab this thing as best I can real quick,' Morse said. ``Might have to play through some pain.'
A.J. Pierzynski homered and David Murphy snapped a 2-all tie with an RBI single in the fifth and the Rangers managed to deny Hernandez (1-0) in his bid for his 100th career victory. Pierzynski hit his second homer of the season with one-out in the second. The Rangers added an unearned run later in the second and scored twice in the fifth.
``We scored some runs off of Felix which doesn't happen very often,' Pierzynski said. ``He's had the career he's had and the numbers he's put up in his career because he's one of the best. He's never a fun at-bat.'
Thursday night was Hernandez's first home start since he signed a $175 million extension in the offseason that will keep him in Seattle through the 2019 season.
There were plenty of cheers early when Hernandez recorded a pair of first-inning strikeouts to reach the 1,500-mark in his career. Hernandez got Murphy looking to end the first inning for No. 1,500. He walked off the mound to be greeted by a handshake from Adrian Beltre - one of Hernandez's closest friends in the game - and catcher Jesus Montero waiting with the ball to commemorate the milestone number.
Hernandez didn't get help from his defense. Raul Ibanez misplayed Mitch Moreland's line drive to left field for an error in the second. Leonys Martin followed with a single and with two outs, Elvis Andrus had an RBI single to score Moreland and give the Rangers the lead.
After Seattle pulled even, the Rangers broke the deadlock in the fifth. Ian Kinsler led off with a single and scored on Murphy's two-out hit. Nelson Cruz followed with a double to left-field to score Lance Berkman for a 4-2 Texas lead.
``I had pretty good stuff, just made a couple of mistakes,' Hernandez said. ``They got to me in the fifth because of mistakes. The ball was up a little bit that inning.'
Franklin Gutierrez hit his third leadoff homer of the season and added an RBI groundout for Seattle. But Seattle couldn't complete rallies in the seventh or eighth innings.
Kyle Seager snapped a 0-for-18 skid with a two-out single in the seventh off Scheppers. Kendrys Morales walked and Morse was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lefty Robbie Ross took over for Scheppers and struck out Raul Ibanez to end the threat.
Seattle had one more rally as Justin Smoak singled and Jesus Montero doubled to open the eighth. Robert Andino followed with a slow chopper to score Smoak and cut the Rangers' lead to 4-3 with pinch-runner Endy Chavez advancing to third.
Seattle then tried to squeeze across the tying run, but Brendan Ryan's bunt went directly back at Ross, who moved quickly off the mound and flipped the ball to Pierzynski in time to get Chavez breaking from third.
``We had opportunities to come back,' Wedge said. ``We had the right people out there for that squeeze when we did it and they made a good play on it.'
Notes: Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman threw out the first pitch. He was joined by teammates Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor with seats in the first row near the Rangers dugout. ... Seattle gave 2B Dustin Ackley the night off. Ackley is hitting just .100. ... Japanese pitchers Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma will meet for the third time in their major league careers on Friday night. The pitchers faced off six times while playing in Nippon Professional Baseball.
The Associated Press News Service
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