SEATTLE -- Some swung. Others watched. The constant was Seattle's Felix Hernandez throwing strikes and sending Florida batters back to the dugout during a stretch of pitching he'll be hard pressed to ever match.
Hernandez was overpowering for five innings, at one point striking out six consecutive batters, then scrambled to hold his lead late in the Mariners 5-4 win over the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night.
The win snapped an eight-game home losing streak for Seattle, and was highlighted by the third, fourth and fifth innings where Hernandez defined domination.
Facing the free-swinging Marlins, the Mariners young ace struck out seven of eight batters at one point, including striking out the side on the minimum nine pitches in the fourth inning, becoming just the 13th pitcher in American League history to accomplish the feat.
Portraying his youth, Hernandez was ambivalent to his accomplishments.
"I was just trying to throw strikes. That's all," Hernandez said. "I didn't know it was a nine (pitches), but it felt good."
Hernandez's final pitching line was fairly ordinary. He allowed three earned runs and six hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out nine. His stretch of 22 innings without allowing an earned run also ended when Dan Uggla hit his 20th homer of the season with one-out in the second.
But between Uggla's homer and Matt Treanor's bloop single leading off the sixth, Hernandez retired 11 straight. Even when Hernandez struggled in the sixth and seventh, allowing three runs -- two earned -- he persevered and lasted into the eighth.
"When he gets ahead, he puts guys away," Uggla said. "(The homer) was pretty lucky. I don't remember seeing the pitch. I don't know what it was. I think he just happened to throw it where I swung."
Despite the late inning struggles, Hernandez (6-5) won his fourth straight and has earned the victory in four of Seattle's five total wins since May 31.
Hernandez left with one-out in the eighth after allowing his only walk of the night. But getting into the eighth was the key and set the table for Seattle's bullpen to close out its first home win since May 31.
"This is part of (Hernandez) growing up. He was cruising before then. He had everything going for him," Mariners' manager John McLaren said. "But he was able to keep his thoughts together, and not fight himself and this goes along with his progress."
Sean Green and Arthur Rhodes got the final two outs of the eighth on strikeouts and Brandon Morrow, filling in for injured closer J.J. Putz, pitched the ninth for his second save.
Hernandez was given an early lead by the Mariners' offense, a rarity all season. Raul Ibanez had three hits, including an RBI single in the first, and Jose Lopez lined a pair of RBI doubles into the left-field corner as the Mariners staked Hernandez to a 5-1 advantage before Florida rallied.
When Lopez drove home Willie Bloomquist in the fourth to give Seattle a 4-1 lead, it was the Mariners first lead of more than two runs since June 6.
"We had some timely hitting and I thought we should have had some more," McLaren said. "But I'm not complaining."
Marlins starter Scott Olsen (4-3) didn't make it out of the fifth, giving up a season-high 11 hits in just 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and lost his third straight decision.
The sixth was an issue for Hernandez, who gave up four straight singles, the last by Jeremy Hermida to drive in a run. Jorge Cantu followed with a sacrifice fly, but Hernandez escaped the jam with consecutive strikeouts of Mike Jacobs and Uggla, both on 3-2 pitches.
"I put it in my mind to keep throwing strikes. That's all," Hernandez said. "Those guys swing at a lot of pitches. They are good hitters."
Luis Gonzalez led off the seventh with a double, advanced to third when centerfielder Willie Bloomquist bobbed the ball on the warning track, and scored on Treanor's sacrifice fly.
"Felix quieted our bats pretty easily," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We were able to get back into it there late but he was great. If it wasn't the best pitching stretch against us, it was one of the best we've seen this year."