"I feel like I have my best command now," Hernandez said. "My fastball is working pretty good, all of my breaking balls are working. It's just like the first two games."
Hernandez (5-4) pitched eight scoreless innings against the A's on opening day and followed that up with a one-hit shutout at Fenway Park before leaving his next start in the first inning with a right elbow strain. Hernandez missed the next four weeks and has taken time to get back to his early season form.
He wasn't as overpowering as he was in his 12-strikeout performance in April against Oakland, not recording a strikeout until fanning Jack Cust with runners on first and second to end the sixth inning. But he was just as stingy.
He didn't give up a hit until Mark Ellis' single to right-center with two outs in the fifth and didn't allow a runner to reach third base. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out two, extending his scoreless streak against the A's to 16 innings.
"I can see Felix getting back into his game where he was the first part of the year before he had his setback. I see more confidence," manager John McLaren said.
"We can't lose sight that this kid is only 21 years old. He's a kid. He's still getting a feeling for pitching. It's kind of scary thinking about his upside and natural and physical ability. We know he's going to be something special."
Coming off a 5-for-5, two homer night Friday, Beltre helped Seattle make short work of Rich Harden in his return to the Oakland rotation by hitting a three-run homer in the second inning. Harden (1-2) couldn't make it out of the third, leaving with a 4-0 deficit.
He told manager Bob Geren that he didn't feel quite right physically and the A's wanted to wait until Sunday to determine Harden's status.
"You're always concerned when somebody is questionable for his next start," Geren said. "It's a concern for sure."
The four early runs were more than enough against the offensively challenged A's, who are tied with Minnesota and Chicago for the most shutouts in the AL with seven. George Sherrill pitched a perfect ninth to finish the two-hitter. But Hernandez was the story of the day.
"If he's throwing strikes there's not a whole lot you can do," Ellis said. "The guy has great stuff. When he's pounding the strike zone, he's as good as anybody."
The Mariners improved to 4-1 in Oakland this year after going winless in nine games here last season on the way to a 2-17 mark in the season series.
"You think about the way played against these guys last year. We weren't very good," Beltre said. "To be able to come back this year and show them we are a better team and we are ready to fight them. So far so good, especially the way we have played in their ballpark."
Harden, the immensely talented but injury-prone pitcher, had not started a game since April 15. He went on the disabled list the following day with a shoulder injury and was out until June 21. He threw four hitless innings in three relief outings before making his return to the rotation against the Mariners.
After throwing a strike to Beltre, Harden threw another that was too good and was hit over the left-field wall by Beltre. Harden allowed another run in the third on an RBI groundout by Guillen and left with two outs and two runners on. He allowed four runs and five hits in 2 2/3 innings, throwing 66 pitches.
"It was not really what I wanted to do," Harden said. "I was a little off."
Lenny DiNardo, who had been in the rotation before Harden's return, pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. DiNardo is competing with Joe Kennedy for the fifth starter's spot when the A's return from the All-Star break.
- Seattle has three shutouts in eight games against Oakland this season -- the two games started by Hernandez and a 2-0 victory by Jarrod Washburn on April 25.
- Right-handed hitters were 2-for-35 this season against Harden before Beltre's home run. The homer is also the only hit Harden has allowed in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position
- Shannon Stewart had one of Oakland's two hits, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.