SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez extended the Texas Rangers' offensive woes and Seattle teammate Nelson Cruz made a triumphant return from a quad injury, hitting his 40th home run in the Mariners' 5-0 win on Thursday that salvaged a split in the four-game series.
Hernandez pitched eight scoreless innings and Tom Wilhelmsen finished as the Rangers (73-65) were unable to score a run for the second game in a row.
Texas has struggled through 18 consecutive scoreless innings while falling 2 1/2 games behind first-place Houston in the American League West standings.
"We've got to find a way to get this offense going in the right direction," manager Jeff Banister said.
Cruz went 2-for-4 in his first game in a week, hitting a two-run homer in the seventh inning that essentially put the game out of reach. Cruz matched his career-high total of 40 home runs, which he did last year as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
"Numbers are numbers," Cruz said with a shrug. "I'm just focused on games and what I'm able to do to help my team win games."
Left fielder Mark Trumbo added two hits and two RBIs as Seattle (68-73) won for the seventh time in nine games.
Hernandez (17-8) gave up three hits while striking out eight. He allowed only one runner past first base before Texas put two runners on base against Wilhelmsen in the ninth.
"He's looked the best since I've been here," Cruz said of Hernandez. "He's even got his curveball working. He looks in form."
Two weeks ago, having endured a rough stretch at the beginning of August, Hernandez made a minor tweak in his delivery that has allowed him to keep his pitches lower in the strike zone. It has resulted in a three-start stretch that has seen Hernandez go 3-0 while posting a 1.88 ERA.
"It's just keeping the ball down," said Hernandez, who matched Houston's Dallas Keuchel for the most wins in the AL (17). "I've got the slider, and my changeup is good, too."
Texas was held to five hits and no runs in the final two games of the series. The Rangers also had three errors Thursday, one more than in the previous 13 games combined.
"We don't like it, but it happens," Banister said of his team's sloppy defense. "This time of year, it's not exactly the way you want to play the game."
Cruz sparked a two-out rally in the first. He singled and moved to third on Robinson Cano's double before red-hot left fielder Mark Trumbo drove in both with a double into the right-field corner.
The double gave Trumbo hits in five consecutive at-bats while extending his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games.
Texas, which made just two errors in its previous 13 games, had two errors in the fifth inning.
A botched grounder by second baseman Rougned Odor followed by an off-target throw from pitcher Derek Holland on an attempted pick-off at second left runners on second and third with one out. But Holland was able to get out of the jam with a strikeout and inning-ending groundout.
Seattle extended its lead to 3-0 in the seventh on a one-out RBI single from shortstop Ketel Marte. Catcher Jesus Sucre led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Marte's single up the middle.
Cruz took Holland deep for the two-run shot in the seventh, extending Seattle's lead while hitting the 40-homer milestone for the second year in a row.
"Pretty good," he said. "We won, and that's the good thing."
The Rangers' only real scoring threat came in the second inning, when first baseman Mitch Moreland led off with a double and moved to third base on a two-out wild pitch. But Hernandez got out of that without any damage and didn't allow another runner to reach second base.
Holland gave up five runs and nine hits in seven innings, his worst outing in six appearances this season.
NOTES: Rangers OF Josh Hamilton will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Friday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. It's believed to be a minor procedure, and the Rangers hope to have him back as a pinch hitter before the end of the season. He has made only two appearances, both as a pinch hitter, since coming off the disabled list last week. ... Mariners DH Nelson Cruz was back in the lineup Thursday after missing six games with a strained quad muscle. ... Seattle LHP James Paxton threw a bullpen session and appears likely to start Sunday against the Rockies. Paxton hasn't pitched in a major-league game since late May, due to a strained finger in his pitching hand. ... Texas CF Delino DeShields continues to be bothered by a sore knee. DeShields was not in the lineup Thursday, marking the third consecutive day that he was out. ... The Mariners salvaged a series split with the win. The last time Seattle had dropped a series was Aug. 21-23, when the Mariners lost two of three to the Chicago White Sox.