Felix Hernandez masterful as Mariners shut out A's

SEATTLE -- It was just like old times for Felix Hernandez -- strong outing on the mound and next to no run support.

Hernandez took a shutout into the eighth inning Thursday night and Adam Kennedy's home run was all the Seattle Mariners needed to beat the Oakland Athletics 1-0.

"I was making great pitches. I was on it all night," Hernandez said. "I make good pitches, they give me one run, we win."

Hernandez (2-2) allowed four singles, two by Cliff Pennington and one by David DeJesus and Josh Willingham. He struck out eight and walked three before leaving after a season-high 126 pitches.

Hernandez won the Cy Young Award last season with a meager 13-12 record and 2.27 earned run average. He had the lowest run support in the American League, 3.10 runs per game. The Mariners scored one run or fewer in 10 of his starts.

One run was enough this time, even though he A's threatened in the eighth and ninth.

Jamey Wright took over in the eighth with two outs and Pennington on second and DeJesus on first. Conor Jackson grounded out on his first pitch to end the inning.

Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fourth save in four chances but it wasn't easy.

He gave up a leadoff single to Willingham, who reached second on Ryan Sweeney's groundout. Kurt Suzuki then popped out to first, with Kennedy making a nifty, over-the-shoulder catch, and Mark Ellis popped out to the catcher.

Hernandez is 11-4 in 19 career starts against the A's with a 2.61 ERA. He has won 10 of his last 12 decisions against Oakland since April 2, 2007.

"He was special tonight. He had command of the ballgame all night long," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "His stuff is as good as anyone in the game. We took him as long as we could take him. He really dug in and dug deep for us."

Kennedy homered for the second night in a row, sending a 3-1 fastball from Brandon McCarthy (1-1) into the right-field seats with one out in the fourth. It's the third time in his career he has hit home runs in consecutive games.

"It's certainly an at-bat I'd like to have back," McCarthy said. "I got behind him and then had to come into his wheelhouse with that pitch. Going against Felix, you know you have to do your best to avoid at-bats like that."

Kennedy also had an outstanding evening in the field in just his ninth career start at first base. He is filling Justin Smoak, who is on bereavement leave.

He made at least four stellar plays. The critical one came in the seventh with two outs and a runner on first. Ellis hit a grounder to deep short. Kennedy made a long, falling-down stretch on shortstop Brendan Ryan's arching throw for the out.

"You're just trying to survive when you play out of position like that," said Kennedy, who has played just 58 of his 1,465 career innings at first base. "We're not scoring a lot of runs and all our pitchers are pitching their hearts out. You have a little extra energy for them to make those plays."

McCarthy, the ultimate victim of lack of run support this game, went eight innings for his second career complete game. He allowed four hits while walking one and striking out six. His ERA is now 2.10.

His other complete game was May 24, 2009 when he was with Texas against Houston.

Over the past seven games, the A's starters have a 1.13 earned run average. Overall, the staff leads the major leagues with a 2.52 ERA.

Carlos Peguero got his first major league hit by beating out a single to shortstop in the third. He was then quickly picked off first.

This was the 41st 1-0 victory in Mariners history, the third for Hernandez. It also was the 25th time in club history the Mariners have shut out the A's.

Game notes
Both teams had late lineup changes. Mariners LF Milton Bradley was scratched because of an upset stomach. An illness also forced 1B Daric Barton out of Oakland's. Barton pinch hit in the eighth. ... RHP Shawn Kelley, who had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 1 last year, joined the Mariners after his extended spring in Arizona. "It definitely feels like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, getting out of Arizona," he said. He's hoping to return by June 1. ... A's LHP Dallas Braden had his ailing shoulder examined by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum and he found no structural damage. "Just a little stiffness in the shoulder," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We'll treat him and go from there." ... A's RHP Michael Wuertz, on the DL with a strained left hamstring, threw 39 pitches for Triple-A Sacramento Wednesday. He will throw again Saturday.