Hernandez, though, has struggled in two of his last three starts and has been inconsistent against the Angels in his career, a pair of trends he'll look to end Friday night in Seattle.
The Angels (55-71) dropped their fourth straight Wednesday, 3-1 to Cleveland to give them a 7-19 mark in their last 26. Los Angeles' injury-ravaged lineup managed four runs as the club was swept in three games by the Indians.
The absence of All-Star outfielder Mike Trout for the past three contests due to tightness in his right hamstring certainly hasn't helped, nor has the loss of Albert Pujols for the balance of his disappointing season. Trout is unlikely to return Friday."You try to get depth in your lineup and right now we're thin. But the guys are playing hard," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've got to keep plugging away. It's the only thing we can do. Some of these guys are trying to get some experience."
The Angels are 16 games under .500 this late in the season for the first time since 1999, the year before Scioscia became manager.
Along with the problems at the plate, Los Angeles' bullpen has struggled badly of late, posting a 7.50 ERA in the past 10 games.
One of the few recent bright spots has been Josh Hamilton , who despite a tough first season with the Angels is batting .321 with three home runs and nine RBIs in his last 13 contests. He's been even better on the road, posting a .400 average with 14 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak.
He's had little success against Hernandez (12-6, 2.62 ERA), going 8 for 56 (.143) with 17 strikeouts, though four of the hits were for extra bases. The Seattle right-hander, though, hasn't been his consistently dominant self of late, allowing 11 runs over 10 innings in two of his last three outings.
Hernandez bounced back from a rough start with eight innings of four-hit ball to beat Milwaukee 2-0 on Aug. 11, but he struggled again Saturday, giving up five runs and five walks - his most since 2011 - in five innings of a 15-3 loss to Texas.
While he went eight innings to beat Los Angeles 6-0 on July 13, he's 8-12 with a 3.97 ERA in 33 career matchups and had posted a 6.87 ERA in three starts against the Angels prior to the latest one.
Hernandez will be opposed by Garrett Richards (3-5, 4.24), who entered Saturday's game against Houston with a 2.42 ERA over a four-start stretch. He was then knocked around for five runs and career-worst 12 hits in six innings in a 6-5, 10-inning win. The right-hander allowed five runs in seven-plus innings of a 6-0 road loss to the Mariners on April 25.
Seattle (59-67) has won four of six, scoring 12 runs in the past two games.
"We're playing a lot of playoff teams down the stretch - a lot of teams that are first or second in their division - and I think it's big for us because we get to see how we stack up right next to them," infielder Brad Miller told the team's official website after Wednesday's 5-3 victory over Oakland. "Our goal is the same. We're trying to win games and win series."
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 19, 2013||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Tight right hamstring|
|August 13, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left calf cramp|
|August 06, 2013||Howie Kendrick||15-Day DL||Sprained left knee|
|August 05, 2013||Howie Kendrick||Day-to-Day||Hyperextended left knee|
|July 27, 2013||Albert Pujols||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis|
|July 27, 2013||Albert Pujols||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis|
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
SEATTLE (AP) -- It wasn't lost on Chris Nelson that Felix Hernandez was the one he took deep to provide the Los Angeles Angels all their offense.
"It was huge because you know he is not going to give up a lot. History just tells us we're not going to score a bunch of runs," Nelson said.
Nelson hit a two-run homer off Hernandez and the Angels ruined Eric Wedge 's return to the dugout with a 2-0 victory over the Mariners on Friday night.
Wedge managed the Mariners for the first time since he had a mild stroke a month ago. He acknowledged being anxious about getting back on the bench and called his ailment "a heads up."
Then Wedge watched his offense be unable to solve Garrett Richards (4-5) and a pair of relievers who combined on a five-hitter for the Angels.
"As the game wore on I felt more and more comfortable and then by the end of the game I felt like I was right there," Wedge said. "I wasn't sure how the energy was going to be, but my energy was good and the focus was good. Just didn't have a whole hell of a lot of action tonight."
Nelson snapped an 0-for-17 slide when he connected in the second for his third homer. Josh Hamilton scored on Nelson's long ball after leading off the inning with a single, and it was the only time Hernandez (12-7) was touched all night.
The biggest problem for Hernandez was the gem Richards was tossing on the other side.
"Richards throw an unbelievable game, so you got to give credit to that," Hernandez said.
Richards (4-5) struck out four and walked two in 7 1-3 innings, but was forced out of the game after taking a liner off his right forearm. The right-hander had thrown just 89 pitches and was in line for a career performance before leaving.
Dustin Ackley led off the eighth with a shot back to the mound that caught Richards and deflected to shortstop Erick Aybar , who threw to first for the out. Manager Mike Scioscia immediately went to the mound and Richards was replaced by Dane De La Rosa.
The Angels said Richards had a forearm contusion. De La Rosa finished off the eighth and Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his 27th save.
Richards said the ball only grazed him, avoided his elbow and he should be fine to make his next start.
"I didn't have my sharpest stuff in the beginning and as the game went on I got a feel for the breaking ball and the extension on my fastball," Richards said. "I was just filling up the zone and throwing quality strikes and going right at guys."
Wedge's month off was filled with doctor's appointments and meetings, researching and relaxing, with the goal of figuring out why he had suffered a stroke at 45 years old and how to prevent it from happening again.
"It's a shot across the bow, it's a mulligan, it's a heads up," Wedge said before the game. "And I'm taking it as such."
Hernandez was handed consecutive losses for the third time this season, even though he was cruising in his final innings. But a taxing fourth inning where he had to throw 29 pitches and left runners stranded on the corners ended up equaling an early exit. Hernandez struck out Grant Green to end the threat in the fourth, and then struck out four of the final six batters he faced. He recorded 10 strikeouts for the 25th time in his career and the fourth time this season.
Seattle finally got multiple runners on base in the same inning when Brad Miller led off the sixth with a single and Kyle Seager walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out. Richards quickly defused the threat, getting Kendrys Morales to ground into a double play. He also got Endy Chavez to ground into a double play to end the seventh after Justin Smoak singled.
"He was not ahead of hitters tonight - his first-ball strike ratio was not good - but his stuff played," Scioscia said. "He got back into counts, got some outs when he had to, got some double play balls. He had good stuff, I just don't know if his command was as crisp tonight."
NOTES: Minor leaguer D.J. Peterson, Seattle's first-round pick in the June draft, underwent surgery in Iowa to repair a broken jaw after he was hit in the face by a pitch on Thursday night. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said Peterson might need a second surgery to fully repair the injury. ... The Angels recalled RHP Cory Rasmus from Triple-A Salt Lake and designated RHP Billy Buckner for assignment. Rasmus will be the 25th pitcher used by the Angels this season. ... Seattle 2B Nick Franklin missed his second straight game with a laceration on his knee.