When the game was over, Yu Darvish felt the need to apologize.
The latest challenge in his season-long education of pitching in the majors did not go well.
"I wasn't able to go deep in the game as a starter should," Darvish said through a translator.
Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners chased Darvish after just four innings in his shortest start of the season, and the Mariners rolled to their fourth straight win in a 6-1 victory over the Rangers on Monday night.
Seattle became the first team Darvish (6-2) had to face a second time, and for the second time he struggled to solve the Mariners. The Japanese rookie labored through 96 pitches and a season-high six walks, failing in his bid to become the first seven-game winner in the majors.
Only Seattle's inability to take advantage of a bases-loaded situation in the fourth kept Darvish's line from being worse. He was inconsistent and, combined with a Seattle lineup that knew his penchant for being a bit wild, it added up to the worst outing of an otherwise brilliant two months so far.
"The early part of the game I was OK with my command," Darvish said. "But somewhere in the middle when I really needed to throw a strike, I struggled to get a strike."
While Darvish was darting around the strike zone, the Rangers were getting shut down by Felix Hernandez, who made a strong statement after consecutive rough starts. Hernandez held the top offense in baseball to one run in eight innings, allowing only Mitch Moreland's homer in the eighth.
Hernandez (4-3) allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked two. Moreland's shot was the only offensive highlight for the Rangers, who have homered in 15 straight games.
"Attack and just throw strikes," Hernandez said. "If you get behind against this lineup, it's a problem."
The game was a chance to see how Darvish would handle facing a team the second time around. While he was off to a solid start — subtract the five runs in the first two innings against the Mariners in his debut and his ERA since then is 1.94 — all of his starts were against teams seeing the Japanese star for the first time.
And Seattle had plenty of success — for two innings — when it saw Darvish for the first time back in April. The Mariners rattled Darvish for eight hits and five earned runs that day, but the Rangers gave Darvish enough offense to make that first start a victory.
This time, Seattle had nearly as much offensive success — trading hits for walks — but the Rangers bats were getting silenced by Hernandez.
"If you don't get opportunities against (Hernandez), he knows how to take it to the house and tonight he took it to the house," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Darvish's troubles started almost immediately. He walked Michael Saunders with one out in the first and Suzuki immediately ripped a shot over first base and down the right-field line. But instead of bouncing off the short wall in foul territory and into the outfield, the ball hit and stayed at the base of the wall. Saunders scored from first and Suzuki strolled into third without a throw and an early lead for Hernandez.
Seattle gave Hernandez a bigger cushion in the third. With two runners on and one out, Suzuki sent a single into shallow center that scored Dustin Ackley from second. Saunders was aggressive and tried to go first to third on the hit, and instead jogged home when Josh Hamilton's throw from center soared over third baseman Adrian Beltre and into the Rangers' dugout on the fly. Rookie Jesus Montero followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Suzuki.
Darvish continued to struggle in the fourth, walking the bases loaded to start the inning. Ackley's RBI single scored John Jaso, but Darvish got infield groundouts by Saunders and Suzuki and a strikeout of Kyle Seager to end the inning and limit the damage. Montero added an RBI double in the seventh off reliever Yoshinori Tateyama, who was called up on Monday after Neftali Feliz was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Darvish had pitched into at least the sixth inning of all eight of his previous starts.
"I told him he doesn't have to apologize to me," Washington said. "That's just part of baseball."
NOTES: Texas' streak of 15 straight games with a homer is the longest in the majors this year and the fourth-longest in franchise history. ... With Feliz on the DL, the Rangers announced that Scott Feldman will start Wednesday's series finale in Seattle.