SEATTLE -- One starting pitcher was in total command, the other looked completely lost on the mound. That's to be expected when a nine-year veteran and former Cy Young Award winner is facing a rookie making his 20th Major League start.
Only it wasn't the rookie who was in trouble from the beginning. Rookie left-hander Martin Perez continued his outstanding August for the Rangers, while Felix Hernandez, pitching in his home park in front of his yellow-clad cheering section, was the one who had the miserable afternoon for the Mariners.
Perez beat Hernandez for the second time in less than two weeks in a battle of Venezuela natives, as the Rangers defeated the Mariners, 12-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field.
The victory gave the Rangers a three-game sweep of the Mariners and improved them to 19-6 in August with two more games to go. The Rangers need a win either Friday or Saturday against the Twins to set a club record for most wins in August. The Rangers are also 44-16 against AL West opponents after two straight wins over All-Star pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma and Hernandez.
"It's funny, people assume just because you're playing a team under .500 that you should win easily," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We just faced two of the best pitchers in the game. To sweep this series while facing those two guys is huge. We played very good baseball."
Perez allowed two runs in six innings in running his record to 8-3 with a 3.58 ERA, and he is 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts in August. He allowed five hits and two runs while striking out three and waking two.
"His poise … his mound presence, he has tremendous mechanics and he keeps the ball down in the zone," manager Ron Washington said. "He's grown by leaps and bounds. He's a young kid, and he's growing up in front of your eyes. Don't put more into it than that. He's going to keep going out there and gain from his experience."
The only two runs he gave up came on solo home runs by Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager after the Rangers had built a 10-run lead. Perez started the afternoon by retiring the first 10 batters he faced while the Rangers were beating up on Hernandez.
"You still have to go out and compete no matter how many runs you have," Perez said. "You still have to throw the ball well. You say 10 runs, but I just wanted to relax and attack hitters. Don't give too much credit to the hitters … just attack the zone."
Hernandez lasted only three-plus innings and allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits and a walk. The big blow was a three-run home run by Leonys Martin with two out in the second inning that gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead. Geovany Soto also had a big two-out hit, a two-run single in the third that made it 5-0.
"The home run by Martin and the base hit by Geo, those were huge for us," said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. "It was a team effort, everybody did their part. Geo had a great game, he was really clutch in that at-bat. After that, we took advantage of every opportunity and chance. It was a team effort and Martin delivered a great game. Felix is always a great challenge. You're facing one of the best pitchers, so it's always a great challenge to beat him."
Hernandez's afternoon came to an end when he gave up four straight hits to start the fourth. Brandon Maurer took over, and Adrian Beltre greeted him with a two-run home run that made it 10-0.
"I gave up nine runs, that's what happened," Hernandez said. "It was embarrassing, terrible. It felt good, but you know I was a little bit up. That was the problem. And everything that I threw, they hit and found holes, that's a whole lot of runs."
The nine runs were the second most allowed by Hernandez in his career. He allowed 10 against the Athletics in four innings on May 16, 2006. It's also tied for the second-shortest outing of his career. He lasted three innings against the Rangers in a 5-3 loss on Sept. 16, 2005, and left a game in 2007 after one-third of an inning because of an injury.
"I just thought we were on today," Soto said. "Felix is always a great competitor, he throws strikes, has a great changeup, great fastball. He was mixing today, but it was just one of those days where we had the best of it."
Hernandez has made five starts against the Rangers this season and is 0-4 with a 7.57 ERA. In 39 career starts against Texas, he is 12-20 with a 4.18 ERA, the most losses against the Rangers by an opposing pitcher. This is the third time in Hernandez's career he has lost four games to an opponent in a season. The other two times were against the Rangers in 2008 and in 2011.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.