NEW YORK -- Even as he struggled with command and mechanics, Felix Hernandez still enjoyed a milestone.
Despite tying a career high with six walks, Hernandez tied Hall of Famer Randy Johnson for the most strikeouts in Seattle Mariners history and pitched five gritty innings during a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday afternoon.
"It's nice," Hernandez said. "I wasn't happy with my performance today we got the win and to tie Randy, it's an honor to be there."
Hernandez (1-1) needed four strikeouts to match Johnson's mark of 2,162 from 1989 and 1998 and it seemed he was going to surpass him when he fanned two in the first inning. He did not get another strikeout until fanning Mark Teixeira to start the fifth and then put two on with two out by walking Chase Headley on a close 3-2 pitch.
"It was a big one man," Hernandez said. "I had 108 pitches and I was like I need to get it done."
Seven pitches later, Hernandez matched Johnson by getting Didi Gregorius to look at a 2-2 changeup. It also was his 109th and final pitch due to issuing six free passes for the fourth time and first time since April 5, 2010 at Oakland.
Hernandez said his pregame warmups were fine but the ball was moving all over the place. Still he did enough to hold the Yankee hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, getting out of trouble in each inning.
"Obviously he's had a fantastic career, not real typical of what he's done with the six walks today," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "He hung in there and that's what we ask our guys to do and he really gave us a chance."
With a small contingent of his "King's Court" clad in yellow T-shirts sitting near the left field foul line, Hernandez ended the first by striking out Carlos Beltran. It was the only time Beltran was retired as he had an RBI double in the third off Hernandez among four hits.
Before matching Johnson, Hernandez escaped trouble by retiring Alex Rodriguez on a one-pitch groundout to end the fourth with two on.
After Rodriguez was retired, the Mariners gave Hernandez the lead and four relievers combined to allow one run over the final four innings.
Leonys Martin opened the fifth by hitting 1-2 breaking ball from CC Sabathia (1-1) into the right-center field seats. The Mariners took the lead when Ketel Marte scored on a single by Robinson Cano and added the eventual game-winning run when Nelson Cruz doubled.
"That's amazing," Martin said. "He had a long way to go to get there. It's amazing. Felix is one of the best."
The Mariners held on for their third straight win following a five-game losing streak and won in New York for the eighth time in its last 10 trips.
Beltran homered in the seventh off Nick Vincent to make it a one-run game and closer Steve Cishek put two on with two outs in the ninth before retiring Headley for his first save.
New York lost its fourth straight due to an inability to get big hits. The Yankees were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and are 3-for-46 in those situations in the last four games.
"It's part of the game," Beltran said. "Felix is a good pitcher. Today we had a lot of opportunities."
"We put ourselves in good position most of the day," Headley said. "Just can't quite get that big hit to break through."
Beltran had four hits for the first time in nearly four years but Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and a pair of groundouts. Rodriguez is hitless in his last 19 at-bats is batting .100 (3-for-30) and heard boos after striking out in the ninth.
Sabathia took a shutout into the fifth but did not get out the inning, allowing three runs and seven hits.
NOTES: Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave a blunt answer during his pregame press conference when asked why he didn't commit to having struggling DH Alex Rodriguez in the lineup following Friday's game. His answer: "I didn't feel like answering the question is the bottom line." ... Seattle 3B Kyle Seeger was given Saturday off from the starting lineup. He has two hits in his last 31 plate appearances and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. ... The Yankees made their second pitching transaction of the season when RHP Brenden Pinder was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre and RHP Tyler Olson was optioned back there. Sunday will be the first matchup between former Rakuten Golden Eagles teammates RHP Masahiro Tanaka and RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. "I'm sure he's looking forward to it and I'm sure there'll be a lot of TVs on," Girardi said.