Sports

M’s head into break on five-game skid

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Felix Hernandez couldn’t outpitch Dan Haren. The Mariners’ hitters managed just three hits after the first inning. Seattle’s best reliever gave up the Angels’ winning rally.

With a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the Mariners have stumbled into the All-Star break on a five-game skid.

That’s particularly bad news for a team that can’t even count to four.

Little went right for the Mariners after Adam Kennedy’s two-run single in the first inning.

Hernandez gave up a tying two-run homer to Mark Trumbo during seven innings of six-hit ball, and he watched from the dugout as David Pauley (5-3) yielded Alberto Callaspo’s tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning of the Angels’ 14th win in 17 games.

“I’m not really happy,” said Hernandez, who hits the break on a three-start winless skid. “It’s disappointing. That homer was a mistake that I made, and they made me pay. They’re playing pretty good baseball right now. I knew it was going to be a tough series.”

The Mariners’ punchless lineup managed just nine runs in the Angels’ four-game sweep.

The final loss came with another little embarrassment: For the second time in nine days, a Seattle opponent mistakenly drew a walk on a three-ball count.

Bobby Abreu took first base with a 3-1 count in the third inning, and neither home plate umpire Gerry Davis nor the Mariners’ dugout protested.

On July 2, San Diego’s Cameron Maybin drew a three-ball walk and eventually scored the only run in Seattle’s 1-0 loss.

At least this walk didn’t hurt the Mariners when Abreu was stranded at first base. Manager Eric Wedge claimed he didn’t mind the mistake, saying he preferred Hernandez’s ensuing matchups with right-handed hitters Vernon Wells and Kendrick over the left-handed Abreu.

The Mariners still have lost 15 of their past 17 games in Anaheim, and they’ve fallen 71/2 games behind first-place Texas — 61/2 behind the Angels — heading to the break. They were swept by Los Angeles in a four-game series for the first time since September 2008.

“The fight has been good,” Wedge said. “I think all the experience of these close games, that’s definitely going to come back and help us. We’re just looking to be more consistent.”

The Mariners got a little good news when Michael Pineda was added to the AL All-Star roster as an injury replacement. The rookie right-hander (8-6) gave up a season-worst seven runs and six hits in five innings in Saturday’s loss to Los Angeles.

Hernandez, who had six strikeouts, already was chosen for his second All-Star team, but won’t be allowed to pitch in Phoenix after starting Sunday.

At least it’s not in Anaheim: Hernandez is 0-4 in 10 starts at Angel Stadium since 2006, and hasn’t beaten the Angels anywhere in seven starts since Sept. 2, 2009.

Haren pitched five-hit ball against Seattle before manager Mike Scioscia removed him with two outs in the ninth.

Trumbo homered in his third straight game for the Angels, who swept the four-game series and remained one game behind similarly streaking Texas atop the AL West standings.

While Trumbo and Callaspo came through with big hits, the Angels relied on another outstanding effort from Haren (10-5), who has won four straight starts — the past two in impressive company.

The right-hander pitched a two-hitter to beat Detroit ace Justin Verlander 1-0 last Tuesday, and he outlasted Hernandez on a sweltering afternoon at Angel Stadium.

“It’s been a tough week with Verlander and Felix,” Haren said. “I wanted that last start before the break, but getting matched up with those guys was tough. We were able to win both games, though.”

Haren had eight strikeouts and allowed just one runner to reach third base in the final eight innings.

After he left, All-Star closer Jordan Walden struck out Franklin Gutierrez on nine pitches for his 20th save, wrapping up the Angels’ 11th win on a 13-game homestand.

“We’re really together right now, and having a lot of fun,” said Torii Hunter, who had two hits, scored the tiebreaking run and made a spectacular leaping catch in right field. “Sweeping a major league ballclub is tough, but since we were here, we might as well sweep them, right?”



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