One bad thing about the Mariners' six-man rotation -- it's longer between Felix Hernandez starts.

Seattle's ace halted his team's five-game losing streak Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles, the Mariners' first win since Hernandez's last start, six days prior, by the same score against the same Angels squad.

This time, closer Brandon League came in for his 33rd save after Hernandez told manager Eric Wedge he was done on a hot night in Southern California. But the end result was Hernandez's second straight one-run win over his American League West rivals, this time on a night where all runs on both sides were unearned.

Hernandez improved to 14-11, one more win than he had last year when he won the AL Cy Young Award.

And turns out, he's not hating this whole six-man rotation notion, despite some initial hesitation when presented with the idea by Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis.

"I was a little upset about it at first," Hernandez said, "but now I'm pretty happy. It's working right now. So thanks to Carl and Skip."

For whatever reason, the King has been surging down the stretch. He's now 6-2 with a 2.28 ERA over his past eight starts.

"He pitches at a level that very few do," Wedge said. "But I do think that he's been even a little bit better here lately."

Wedge and Willis went to the extra starter down the stretch to alleviate the load on Michael Pineda as well as the rest of Seattle's rotation, which now includes four rookies. But each of those other starters lost his last outing until Hernandez's turn came around again.

On an 87-degree night in front of 36,533 fans at Angel Stadium, Hernandez did the heavy lifting again as his offense totaled 10 hits but stranded 14 while going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

The load was heavy enough that Hernandez made the rare concession that he was done after eight innings and 111 pitches when Wedge went and asked if he wanted to continue.

"I can't lie. I was a little tired at the end," Hernandez said. "It was humid and hot, but I still felt pretty good. He asked me, and I had to be honest because we need to win this game. We've got one of the best closers right now, and I said, 'That's enough, that's good for me.'"

Hernandez was plenty good all night, holding the Angels to four hits and one unearned run -- thanks to his own throwing error on a sixth-inning bunt by Torii Hunter -- with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Wedge acknowledged he was in-between on whether to send Hernandez for another inning, but quickly made the call to League after talking to his ace.

The Halos had gone 18-3 in their past 21 games against the Mariners at Angel Stadium and knew this was a big game, needing a win to stay 2 1/2 back of Texas in the AL West. But they couldn't keep up their recent run, for one simple reason.

"Today we faced Felix Hernandez," Hunter said. "That's the difference. His ball's moving all over the place. It's cutting, slicing. The curveball is hard, slow. You've got to stay short, get a pitch to handle. You've got to try to get the ball up off him -- and good luck."

Seattle took advantage of a pair of unearned runs on a night Los Angeles committed four errors. The Mariners were more than happy to accept the Angels' generosity, given they'd tallied five errors themselves a night earlier in a 7-3 loss.

This time, the Mariners' own defense was stellar behind Hernandez, with infielders Kyle Seager, Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley all making strong plays and Ichiro Suzuki hauling in a tough catch on a deep drive by Vernon Wells in the fifth.

"My defense was awesome," Hernandez said. "That's how you win games."

Well, all except for Hernandez's own error on a perfect bunt by Hunter in the sixth. His throw put Hunter on second, where he scored on Alberto Callaspo's single up the middle in what turned out to be the last hit allowed all night by Hernandez.

"Oh, I should have made that play," Hernandez said. "Actually, I should have just kept the ball. He was safe anyway. I was just trying to be on ESPN."

The Mariners used two Angels miscues in the second inning to load the bases and push across an unearned run on Trayvon Robinson's sacrifice fly to center.

Seattle's other run came in the fourth, when Michael Saunders grounded into a fielder's choice to score Kyle Seager from third, with Saunders hustling to first to beat the double-play effort of Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis.

"At that point, with a runner on third, I just told myself to put the ball in play and don't get doubled up," said Saunders, who started in center field after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. "I was happy to just be able to kind of contribute in my first game and get this one under my belt and move forward from here."

Ackley continued his strong rookie campaign with a 2-for-4 day that included his seventh triple since his mid-June callup and extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Ichiro went 1-for-4, leaving him 39 hits shy of the 200-hit mark with 21 games remaining.

{seattlemariners.com}