SEATTLE – After winning his fifth straight decision, Felix Hernandez felt the need to apologize.
Losing his command in the late innings Tuesday night didn't cost the Mariners ace in Seattle's 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
It did land Yankees star Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list with a broken left hand.
"It was getting away. It was a changeup to A-Rod," Hernandez said. "... I feel bad.
Hernandez continued a month of mostly brilliant pitching, but injured Rodriguez when he hit him with a pitch in the eighth inning. It was the final batter Hernandez faced and capped a string of three batters hit among the last five Hernandez faced.
While not his sharpest, Hernandez had allowed only Curtis Granderson's first-inning home run and worked out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings.
The sudden loss of control started when Hernandez (9-5) hit former teammate Ichiro Suzuki on the foot with a breaking ball in the seventh. He then hit Derek Jeter in the arm to open the eighth and completed the trio when his 3-2 pitch to Rodriguez tailed up and in.
None of the Yankees felt any of the wayward pitches were intentional and Hernandez was remorseful after learning that Rodriguez's injury was so serious.
"Not on purpose. Not on purpose," Hernandez said. "It was just the command and it was up."
Rodriguez was hit with an 88 mph changeup and went down in considerable pain. The Yankees said he has a non-displaced fracture of the hand, and there is no timetable for his return. He will be placed on the disabled list and will remain in Seattle with the team for the series finale Wednesday.
Rodriguez will then return to New York with the team and be examined by Yankees doctors where a better timetable for his absence will be determined. Eric Chavez, the presumptive replacement at third base with Rodriguez out, said he had almost the same injury in the past and missed six to eight weeks.
"I never thought fracture, but it was," a sullen Rodriguez said.
Granderson's homer was the first allowed by Hernandez in his previous eight starts. But Hernandez pitched out of trouble in the later innings to extend his longest win streak since he won nine straight in 2010, his Cy Young season.
Michael Saunders hit his 10th homer of the season for Seattle in the first inning and one-time Yankees prospect Jesus Montero added an RBI single in the third that proved to be enough support for Hernandez.
After slumping through parts of May and early June, Hernandez has been brilliant since the middle of last month. He's pitched at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts and allowed two earned runs or less in each of those seven.
He gave up two runs to the Yankees and had retired eight straight before hitting Suzuki on the foot with a breaking ball with two outs in the seventh.
"Every now and then the ball is going to get away. Felix is aggressive. You've got to pitch to both sides of the plate and that is what he was doing," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Hernandez was pulled after hitting Rodriguez and giving up four hits in 7 1-3 innings. Lucas Luetge took over and immediately gave up a single to Robinson Cano to load the bases and Mark Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly to score Jeter. Luetge sent Raul Ibanez to his backside with a pitch under his chin before striking him out on a 3-2 breaking ball and preserving the Mariners' lead.
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances.
Yankees starter Freddy Garcia (4-4) looked more like the 2001 version that won 18 games with the Mariners and was an All-Star. Garcia struck out a season-high eight and retired the final 15 he faced before being pulled with one out in the eighth.
Seattle manufactured a pair of runs in the third thanks to aggressive baserunning. Brendan Ryan went from first-to-third on Saunders' single to right, testing and beating the throw from Suzuki. He scored on Montero's broken-bat blooper with Saunders following Ryan's lead and going first-to-third, also beating Suzuki's throw. Saunders then scored on John Jaso's sacrifice fly.
Kyle Seager added a check-swing, RBI infield single with two outs in the eighth for his AL-leading 34th two-out RBI.
"You work so hard to push that extra run across there in the eighth, you carry a lead for most of the ball game, a lot of good things happened tonight for our guys," Wedge said.
NOTES: Rodriguez recorded his 2,000th career strikeout when he went down swinging in the sixth inning on a changeup from Hernandez. ... Suzuki was hit by a pitch for the first time since July 20, 2010. ... Hernandez hit three batters in a game for the third time in his career.