PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was glad to pitch in an actual game, even if it was just an exhibition.
The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four in three hitless innings during an 8-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.
The Mariners, who open the season on March 28 in Tokyo, have been in camp since Feb. 11, and Hernandez had thrown in an intrasquad game and a simulated contest before making his spring debut.
``It was nice, about time,' Hernandez said of facing another team. ``First time I've been (against) the hitters, and I feel pretty good.'
Hernandez hit Kristopher Negron with the first pitch of the game, then retired the next nine batters.
``I don't know what happened,' Hernandez said about that shaky first pitch. ``I tried to throw a back-door sinker. I think it sunk too much.'
Hernandez threw 26 of his 35 pitches for strikes. He had a wrap on a hamstring after his outing, but said he was fine.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander said he will throw 65 pitches in his next start and probably 80 in the following outing to prepare for the season. He is expected to start on opening day against Oakland.
Mat Latos, expected to serve as Cincinnati's No. 2 starter, allowed two hits in two scoreless innings in his spring debut. The Reds acquired the right-hander when they traded four players to San Diego in December.
``Everything was coming out of my hand real good,' Latos said. ``The slider looked real good. The curveball had good bite to it. The fastball was real live. The changeup is in the back pocket. My arm felt great. The delivery, mechanics everything felt good.'
Latos went 9-14 with a 3.47 ERA last season. Following the trade, he said he thought he would have to prove himself. Now he is focused on preparing for the season.
``I try not to think about the trade as much as possible,' he said. ``I just worry about taking care of what I can control.'
Seattle star Ichiro Suzuki went 3 for 3 with two RBIs to raise his spring average to .429. He is moving from his usual leadoff spot to the No. 3 spot this spring.
``He's a hitter. He knows the game,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ``I want him to define that three-hole spot. He will, and he is. The more he's there, the more accustomed he'll get to it.'
Denis Phipps, the Reds' 2011 minor league hitter of the year, hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
The Mariners scored five runs in the third against Brett Tomko, who agreed to a minor league deal last month. Two of the runs were unearned.
In the first inning, Reds left fielder Willie Harris lost a fly ball hit by Suzuki in the sun. The ball dropped in for a hit.
``Some of our young guys played well,' Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ``The weather, the sun and the wind were wreaking havoc. That's always the case here.'
NOTES: Mariners C Jesus Montero was sick but is expected back Wednesday. . Reds prospect Donald Lutz, who grew up in Germany, hit a solo home run in the eighth. ... Mariners C Adam Moore, who likely will begin the season in the minors, hit a two-run double off the center-field wall in the fifth. He is coming back after a leg injury limited him last season. .Cincinnati's Juan Francisco went 0 for 3 in his first spring at_bats. He had been out with a strained calf.
The Associated Press News Service
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