SEATTLE – In one dugout were the Mariners, who had scored 99 fewer runs than any team in the American League.
In the other dugout were the Angels, who came to Seattle riding a 26-inning scoreless streak, having plated just one run in their just-concluded series with Baltimore – and that in the first inning on a balk.
It had all the earmarks of a pitchers’ duel – or, more accurately, a hitters’ snooze. And for five innings, the two teams played to form, plodding through a scoreless tie.
But in the sixth, the Angels ended their drought with a vengeance, pounding three home runs off David Pauley to send them on the way to a 5-3 victory at Safeco Field on Monday night.
“For them to come in with 26 (scoreless innings) and think they’re going to leave here and double that total, that’s probably not realistic,” Mariners manager Daren Brown said. “I thought Pauley really did a nice job for five innings. In the sixth inning, he left some pitches up in the zone and they didn’t miss them.”
Pauley took a two-hit shutout – one of the hits a bunt single – into the sixth. But leadoff hitter Peter Bourjos, the rookie center fielder whose arrival pushed Torii Hunter into right field, blasted a 1-0 pitch over the center-field wall. That ended the Angels’ scoreless streak at 31 innings, two shy of the club record.
They liked it so much that Bobby Abreu, with two outs, hit a copycat homer to virtually the same spot. And after a Hunter single, Hideki Matsui crushed yet another round-tripper.
“It’s frustrating,” Pauley said of his recent propensity for a meltdown. “The first five innings are good, and all of a sudden the game speeds up. It’s hard to explain, but very frustrating.”
Ervin Santana, meanwhile, was cruising along with a shutout until the seventh, when the Angels helped the Mariners break into the run column. It started with a routine pop-up by Jose Lopez that dropped between third baseman Alberto Callaspo and shortstop Erick Aybar on a communication mix-up.
With one out, Franklin Gutierrez singled, and both runners moved up on a Santana wild pitch. Michael Saunders, returning to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 21, hit a soft fly to right that Hunter got a poor jump on, and it dropped in front of him for an RBI single. Another run came in on Adam Moore’s sacrifice fly.
The Angels, however, added a run in the eighth on a balk by Sean White after Jamey Wright had walked the bases loaded.
Fernando Rodney picked up his first save since the Angels traded closer Brian Fuentes to Minnesota last week, preserving Santana’s 14th win. But it didn’t come without adventure.
Rodney walked the first hitter, but a Mariners base-running blunder squelched the threat.
Gutierrez, called out trying to scramble back to second in the ninth, had another baserunning misadventure, getting thrown out at third trying for a triple on a drive off the scoreboard.
“He had a realistic chance,” Brown said. “I don’t mind that type of aggression in a 1-0 game.”
One highlight for the Mariners was a double play started by shortstop Josh Wilson in the fifth, when he flipped the ball from his glove to Chone Figgins, who made a sharp relay to first.