Nelson Cruz breaks up Felix Hernandez's no-hitter with homer in 8th

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez struck out Elvis Andrus to end the sixth inning on a changeup so nasty, even his own teammates couldn't believe what they saw.

Hernandez got Andrus to chase a 93-mph changeup that almost hit him as he swung over the pitch. The right-hander returned to the dugout as teammates asked him, 'What was that?"

"He says, 'Changeup, and it was 93 on the gun.' I just started laughing," catcher Adam Moore said. "I had no idea it was 93, and that just tells you what kind of night he was having.

"Everybody thought it was a two-seam [fastball] coming in and that ball just jumped out of his hand. I don't know if he reared back and let her flew but that ball came out really hard and that ball had probably a good foot of movement. As [Andrus] started his swing, that ball was over the middle of the plate, and when he started to take his swing that ball almost hit him in the leg. Just unbelievable."

Hernandez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, pitching the Seattle Mariners past the first-place Texas Rangers 2-1 on Friday night and boosting his bid for the AL Cy Young Award.

"When he takes the mound, something special could happen that night," Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said. "He's good to have on our side."

Nelson Cruz broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff homer to center field in the eighth against Hernandez (12-11), who gave up three hits in eight innings to win a pitchers' duel with C.J. Wilson (14-7).

"It was a little bit up, but it was a good pitch," Hernandez said. "I was going to throw fastballs. That's my best pitch and he got it. He put a good swing and got a homer to the deep part of the ballpark."

Hernandez retired 21 straight after walking his first batter of the game. It was the second time in his career that he lost a no-hit bid on the first batter of the eighth inning. He also threw seven hitless innings against Boston on April 11, 2007.

"It was pretty good," Hernandez said with a smile.

The right-hander walked one and struck out eight, reclaiming the major league lead in strikeouts from Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels.

"The King was great tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I don't know if he has thrown a game that good before this year, but he certainly threw it against us tonight."

David Aardsma pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save.

The mark against Hernandez in the Cy Young race is his pedestrian won-lost record. He pitches for a team with the worst record in the AL, but leads the league in ERA (2.35) and innings (233 2-3).

King Felix was runner-up to Kansas City ace Zack Greinke for the Cy Young Award last year. This season, his competition includes CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees and David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, among others.

The Rangers struggled to make solid contact against Hernandez. Bengie Molina grounded out to start the sixth, driving third baseman Jose Lopez back to the edge of the outfield grass, and first baseman Casey Kotchman had to dig the throw out of the dirt. Hernandez induced three grounders back to the mound, and not a single ball that left infield was hit with any authority until Cruz's home run.

"Felix is always tough, but even by his standards he was good tonight," Texas' Michael Young said.

The Rangers finally strung together a couple of hits off Hernandez in the eighth. After Cruz's homer, Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis singled to put a runner in scoring position for the first time. After a double steal, Hernandez got Julio Borbon to ground out to end the threat.

Franklin Gutierrez singled leading off the Seattle second. After advancing on a chopper to the mound by Moore, Gutierrez stole third and scored on a wild pitch from Wilson, who yielded six hits in his third complete game of the season and second in a losing effort.

Ichiro Suzuki hit a one-out single, then stole second and third. Chone Figgins delivered an RBI single on a full-count pitch to give the Mariners a 2-0 cushion.

Game notes
Seattle DH Russell Branyan was scratched from the lineup with a stiff back. He was replaced by Matt Tuiasosopo, who batted eighth. ... Suzuki and Figgins each reached 40 stolen bases. They became the second pair of teammates in franchise history to both steal 40 in a season. Phil Bradley and Harold Reynolds accomplished the feat in 1987. ... The Mariners matched a season high with five stolen bases. It was the second time in three games the team has swiped five bags.