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Hernandez shuts down Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  June 29, 2012 01:55 AM

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SEATTLE — Franklin Morales gave the Red Sox everything he had on Thursday night at Safeco Field, throwing seven shutout innings and 109 pitches in only his third start of the season.

But Felix Hernandez had more to give. King Felix was immense in a 1-0 Seattle victory, striking out 13 and scattering five singles.

The 13 strikeouts matched a career high as did the 128 pitches Hernandez threw. With the exception of Mike Aviles, he struck out every Red Sox hitter at least once in his fifth career shutout.

“He was great,” Dustin Pedroia said. “That’s the best we’ve seen. He was unreal, man. His stuff was moving all over the place.”

Hernandez pitched to the wide strike zone of umpire Adrian Johnson, working the corners with his fastball.

Seattle got Hernandez the win in the bottom of the ninth when Casper Wells doubled off Scott Atchison and scored on a single by pinch hitter John Jaso.

The throw from Cody Ross beat Wells to the plate but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia could not hold onto the ball and the Mariners had a walk-off celebration.

“That’s a play I have to make,” Saltalamacchia said, “especially in a game like that.”

The Sox were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position with their best chance coming in the ninth inning.

David Ortiz singled up the middle with one out before Saltalamacchia worked a walk. Adrian Gonzalez got ahead 3-and-0 and swing and missed at a fastball.

After fouling off four pitches in a row, Gonzalez hit a fly ball to the fence in left center at spacious Safeco Field that was caught.

“That’s probably off the wall in any other park,” Gonzalez said.

Said Bobby Valentine: “Adrian did all he could do.”

Will Middlebrooks was next and he popped up the first pitch he saw to second base. Middlebrooks is 1 for 15 since the trade that send Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox.

In three starts since he joined the rotation, Morales has allowed four earned runs over 18 innings with three walks and 24 strikeouts.

The 109 pitches he threw were 23 more than his last start.

“I felt very good with my concentration and my pitches. I tried to make my first pitch for a strike and locate my fastball to both sides of the plate,” Morales said.

Facing Hernandez, a fellow Venezuelan, Morales never backed down.

“You know what? He’s one of the best pitchers in the American League. I don’t think about him. I’m going to pitch my game,” Morales said. “I’m going to make my pitches. I tried to pay attention hitter by hitter.”

Valentine laughed at a question about whether Morales would say in the rotation. Like the Red Sox can afford to replace the pitcher who has been their best starter since he joined the rotation.

See Friday's Globe for more on the game along with a notebook, a minor-league notebook and Nick Cafardo's column on David Ortiz.

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