SEATTLE -- Just what The King needed, an eight-run cushion.
But that's what the Mariners' offense and the Rays' defense gave to Mariners ace Felix Hernandez by the end of the second inning Monday night in the Mariners' 12-5 win over the Rays.
"That's called being suboptimal at that particular moment," said Rays manager Joe Maddon when asked about Hernandez being staked to such a big lead. "You don't like that. We kept battling through that, but that was such a big number to overcome.
"…We got ambushed. Definitely. We just sashayed into the canyon and there was firing from both sides. ... It happens. You gotta be careful. We just got ambushed. To their credit, they hit the ball well. They hit the ball hard."
The Rays have now lost two in a row and five of their last six to move to 16-23 on the season and 0-1 on their current six-game road trip that includes three-game sets against the Mariners and Angels.
Hernandez last pitched against the Rays on Aug. 15, 2012, when he threw a perfect game at Safeco Field. He retired the first five batters he faced Monday night before Wil Myers broke the spell with an infield single.
The Mariners ace went on to do what aces do by stuffing the Rays' offense until Ryan Hanigan's three-run double with two outs in the seventh served Hernandez his curtain call. After getting lifted, Hernandez shouted at home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, who ejected him.
David DeJesus doubled off Tom Wilhelmsen to score Hanigan and cut the lead to 9-4. Hernandez absorbed all four runs, but still earned his fourth win of the season while striking out seven.
"Obviously he was very sharp," Matt Joyce said. "He's one of the best in the game for a reason. Just went out tonight and put another really amazing start together."
Unfortunately for the Rays, the seventh-inning rally proved to be too little too late given the way the Mariners' offense got out of the gate against Rays starter Cesar Ramos.
James Jones doubled to lead off the Mariners' first and Stefen Romero followed with a single to right to score Jones and Romero moved to second when Myers mishandled the ball. The fielding miscue proved to be the first of four errors committed by Rays fielders in the first two innings.
"We were lucky," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "They don't usually do that. It just goes to show you how tough this traveling is. I think their flight was five hours getting in here. And with the time change, it's just tough to perform like that .We had that coming home from Miami. It's tough, but you have to get up and get going."
Still in the first inning, Robinson Cano doubled off the left-field wall to score Romero. Umpires reviewed the call to see if Cano's ball was a home run, but the call on the field was confirmed. The next batter, Corey Hart, followed suit by driving a ball to right that hit off the top of the wall to score Cano. Initially, Hart thought he had a home run before picking up his stride after rounding first and getting thrown out at second. Again, umpires reviewed the play and the call on the field was confirmed for the first out of the inning.
Despite surrendering five hits in the first, Ramos allowed just three runs. He wasn't as fortunate in the second.
Mike Zunino hit his sixth homer of the season to lead off the Mariners' second. They would add four more runs on two hits, a walk, a sacrifice fly and three fielding errors by the Rays.
A haunting five-spot hung on the scoreboard to designate the Rays' transgressions in the second. The Rays have now experienced eight innings this season in which they have allowed five runs.
To Ramos' credit, he hung around to eat some innings, giving the Rays 6 2/3 innings -- a noteworthy contribution considering the overuse of the team's bullpen for the bulk of the season. Ramos allowed five earned runs on 11 hits and two walks while striking out six to take his second loss of the season.
"What happened tonight, above all the negative stuff, Cesar was the ultimate professional," Maddon said. "What he did to get us as deeply into the game as he did prevented us from having to use more bullpen people, really, really was beneficial to us tomorrow and the days to come."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.