SEATTLE – Three days ago, when winning two of three games from the Los Angeles Angels seemed like a remote possibility for the Seattle Mariners after a 10-run loss, manager Don Wakamatsu sat in his office and stayed positive.
“We can play these guys tough,” he said. “But to do it, our starting pitchers need to keep the games tight. If we can do that and get to the late innings, I like our chances.”
The Mariners followed Monday’s thrashing with two days of baseball just as he described, including a 3-0 victory Wednesday when Felix Hernandez and a seventh-inning burst by the offense were the combo for a second straight victory.
In both games, the Mariners found ways to break a tie score in the seventh, then used their biggest strength – the bullpen – to lock down the Angels at the end.
“I am awfully proud of these guys, especially when you look back a couple of days ago and we got beat pretty bad by those guys,” Wakamatsu said.
In the milestone department, it was the Mariners’ 70th victory this season to put them six games above .500. They’re 9-7 against the Angels, whose lead over Texas in the American League West dropped to 3½ games.
The Mariners, who beat newly acquired Angels starter Scott Kazmir for the second time in less than a month, remain in third place, nine games out.
Hernandez, like rookie Doug Fister the night before, pitched one of his strongest games of the season, holding the Angels to four hits in eight innings.
He pitched into and out of trouble a few times but escaped, especially in the third inning when the Angels loaded the bases with two outs. Hernandez struck out Torii Hunter to end that threat. He also dealt with runners in scoring position two other times but pitched out of trouble.
“When he needed to make pitches, he did,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “And when we had guys in scoring position, he made pitches.”
Since Hernandez’s last start against the Angels on May 30, he’s 12-4 with a 2.37 earned-run average.
Hernandez struck out six, including Hunter twice, and held Vladimir Guerrero hitless the three times he faced him.
The Mariners blew a bases-loaded, nobody-out moment in the first inning when Kazmir struck out Mike Sweeney, Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall.
That was the start of 18 straight retired by Kazmir.
Sweeney started the bottom of the seventh with a walk and the Mariners, who’d scored two runs in their previous 33 innings, badly needed someone, anyone to deliver a big hit.
Hall, auditioning for a role on the 2010 team after Seattle acquired him from the Brewers on Aug. 19, came through.
He doubled to left-center field to score Sweeney for a 1-0 Mariners lead, then used his legs to score the second run. With one out and Jack Wilson batting, Hall stole third and drew a bad throw from Angels catcher Mike Napoli. As the ball rolled into left field, Hall ran home for a 2-0 Mariners lead.
The M’s added another run in the eighth off Angels closer Brian Fuentes, who walked Beltre to force home a run.
That was more than enough cushion for Mariners closer David Aardsma, who faced the middle of the Angels’ lineup for the second straight game.
He got them all – Guerrero on a grounder to shortstop, Kendry Morales with a strikeout and Maicer Izturis on another grounder to short – for his 33rd save.
Mariners 3, Angels 0
|Matthews Jr. lf||3||0||0||0||0||1||.243|
E—Napoli (6). LOB—Los Angeles 6, Seattle 6. 2B—F.Gutierrez (17), Hall (4). RBIs—Beltre (32), Hall (6). SB—Hall (1). CS—Figgins (16). RLISP—Los Angeles 4 (Tor.Hunter 2, Guerrero, Napoli); Seattle 4 (Hall 4). RMU—Tor.Hunter, M.Izturis, Matthews Jr.. GIDP—Ro.Johnson. DP—Los Angeles 1 (M.Izturis, E.Aybar, K.Morales).
|Kazmir L, 8-8||6 1/3||3||2||1||1||8||5.68|
|F.Hernandez W, 14-5||8||4||0||0||3||6||2.65|
|Aardsma S, 33-37||1||0||0||0||0||1||2.19|
IR-S—Jepsen 1-1, Palmer 3-0. IBB—off Fuentes (Jo.Lopez). HBP—by Kazmir (Jo.Lopez). T—2:31. A—22,130 (47,878).