Minneapolis, MN – Unlike Philip Humber and Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez has remained dominant since tossing his perfect game.
Hernandez fired his third shutout in his past five starts and fifth of the season in a 1-0 Seattle Mariners win over the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a four-game set.
Hernandez (13-5), who fanned five, scattered five hits and walked one, was supported by an Eric Thames home run in the eighth inning.
"I was just trying to make good pitches, keep the ball down," Hernandez said.
The 26-year-old Venezuelan matched his career-high winning streak of nine games. He's the only Mariners pitcher two win at least nine straight decisions twice. Randy Johnson had three winning streaks of at least eight games, but never reached nine twice.
"He was going back and forth a lot, using his breaking ball, changing speeds," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said of Hernandez's start. "I think the biggest thing was just getting ahead in the count and that allows you to get deep in games."
The 2010 AL Cy Young award winner has a minuscule 1.08 ERA over his past five outings and has surrendered just a run in 16 2/3 innings since his perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15.
Humber was 0-2 with a 7.86 ERA in five starts since his perfect game against Seattle on Apr. 21, while Cain wobbled to a 1-1 mark with a 3.69 ERA in his next five outings since retiring all 27 batters he faced on June 13 against the Houston Astros.
Liam Hendriks (0-7) was the hard-luck loser. He struck out six and allowed a run on three hits and three walks in his first complete game, but the righty remains winless after 14 career starts.
He had given up just two hits through the first seven frames before Thames led off the eighth with an opposite-field shot into the flower bed in left field.
Josh Willingham had a one-out infield single in the ninth, but Hernandez induced Justin Morneau into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Mauer got the first hit off Hernandez with two outs in the fourth when he fisted a single into center field. Willingham was then hit by a pitch to put Mauer in scoring position, but Morneau struck out to end the frame.
The Twins had their biggest threat in the seventh when Morneau led off the inning with a triple to left field. But three straight groundouts by Ryan Doumit, Trevor Plouffe and Jamey Carrol got Hernandez out of the jam.
The Twins were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, while Seattle finished 0-for-3 ... Hernandez's season ERA sits at 2.43 ... Thames' homer was his seventh of the season.