King Felix 'Struggles' to Seventh Win

TACOMA – When starting pitchers step on the mound and fire 5.1 innings and proclaim the effort mediocre afterward, typically you'd expect an actual mediocre performance.

When Felix Hernandez pitches 5.1 innings of so-so baseball, he simply allows no runs on five hits and strikes out eight Las Vegas 51s.

"Not my best game," said Hernandez just moments after Masao Kida recorded the final out of the game to preserve a 4-0 Tacoma victory and securing the 19-year-old phenom's seventh win of the season. "I didn't feel real good. It was not a good game for me."

Hernandez tossed 94 pitches, 53 for strikes, but was inconsistent locating his fastball early on, and that led to some ineffectiveness in the middle of his outing as 51s hitters were not chasing the curve ball and change-up. He also walked five batters.

"Sometimes he just needs to battle through things," said Rainiers skipper Dan Rohn. "He fought hard out there and it's just something he needs to work through."

Hernandez threw 52 fastballs, 26 curve balls and 16 change-ups, but never found the groove that has led him to allow three runs or less in 10 of his 12 starts for Tacoma this season.

Jamal Strong has three hits to push his average closer to the .300 mark and added his 14th steal of the season to spark the Rainiers offense.

Hunter Brown extended his 14-game hitting streak with an RBI single in the second and Shin-soo Choo drove in Tacoma's first run with an RBI single in the top of the first.

Right-hander Chris Buglovsky relieved Hernandez with one out in the sixth and got out of a jam with a fly out and then struck out Henri Stanley to end the threat.

Right-handers Sean Green and Kida finished off the 51s with two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth.

Hernandez is now 7-4 on the season with a 2.53 ERA in 12 starts.

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