ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Seattle Mariners are still going with a bullpen-by-committee and it worked out perfectly Tuesday night — except for one minor flaw that Kendrys Morales overcame with a clutch hit against his former team.
Morales hit an RBI single in the 10th inning, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Angels.
It was only the third RBI for Morales in 30 at-bats against the Angels since he was traded to the Mariners in December for pitcher Jason Vargas.
Charlie Furbush (1-3) faced only one batter to get the victory, striking out Josh Hamilton with runners at first and second to end the ninth. Rookie Yoervis Medina got three outs for his first major league save.
Hamilton grounded into a double play his first three times up and struck out his next two at-bats. The 2010 AL MVP, who signed a five-year, $125 million contract in December, is batting .213 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 69 games.
“It’s hard for me to tell why he’s struggling because I’ve only faced him a handful of times,” Furbush said. “He just working through whatever he’s working through to try to get back to the big power numbers that he’s had in the past.”
“I just try to do the things I’ve got to do to make myself successful.”
Kyle Seager sparked the winning rally with a two-out double in the 10th against Garrett Richards (2-4). Morales, who struck out his previous three times up, then lined a 3-2 pitch off the glove of shortstop Erick Aybar to give Seattle the lead.
Seattle grabbed a 2-0 lead on consecutive homers by Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak in the second inning against Joe Blanton. But Mark Trumbo connected in the bottom half, and Albert Pujols tied it with a leadoff drive against Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth.
“There were a couple of guys in the bullpen we wanted to try and stay away from, and Tommy was the guy to go to right there,” said manager Eric Wedge said, who got 16 saves from Wilhelmsen in 20 opportunities before removing him from that role. “It was a fresh inning, and we had to send him out there for the next inning, too. We were planning on saving Medina to close, so we couldn’t go to him right there.”
Jeremy Bonderman pitched six innings of six-hit ball and Oliver Perez got three outs before Wilhelmsen yielded Pujols’ 12th homer on an 0-1 pitch. Until then, right-handed batters were only 5 for 48 against Wilhelmsen, who had not allowed a home run this season in 29 1-3 innings.
The 30-year-old Bonderman, who missed the previous two seasons due to injuries and Tommy John surgery, is 1-0 with a sparkling 0.90 ERA over 20 innings covering his last three starts. The Mariners signed him to a minor league contract in January.
“When you look at the physical shape he’s in and how hard he’s worked to come back, it was a good guy to give an opportunity to — and it was worth it,” Wedge said.
The Angels, who outscored Seattle 30-4 in the previous three meetings, got their first run when Trumbo drove Bonderman’s first pitch of the second into the rock pile in left-center for his team-high 16th homer and first since June 1. It ended Bonderman’s streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings, equaling his career best from 2007 with Detroit.
Blanton gave up six hits in 6 2-3 innings and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, following an eight-day stretch between starts to work with pitching coach Mike Butcher on his fastball command.
Blanton, whose no-decision left him at 1-10, still shares the major league lead in losses with former Philadelphia Phillies teammate Cole Hamels. He has a 5.62 ERA in his first 14 starts with the Angels after signing a two-year, $15 million contract in December, and has surrendered giving seven home runs during his last four starts.
“Throwing strikes is one thing, and commanding the zone is another,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Joe has the ability to throw strikes. It’s just making that quality pitch in a good zone that has kind of waivered a little bit in his game, and that’s when he’s had trouble.”
Ibanez led off the second with his 14th homer. Smoak, who came off the disabled list Tuesday after missing 18 games because of an oblique strain on his right side, drove the next pitch to right field for his fourth of the season.
“It was nice to come back and pop one on the first swing,” Smoak said. “I figured he’d try to get ahead. He left a fastball in the middle and I put a good swing on it.”
Smoak’s drive landed in the first row above the 18-foot right field wall. Angels manager Mike Scioscia came out to suggest fan interference to the umpires, but the ruling was upheld after a video replay.
It was only the second time in 806 major league games that Hamilton grounded into more than one double play. He did it twice on June 18, 2010, with Texas at Boston. … Ibanez has hit safely in his last 13 games at Angel Stadium — one off his career best streak at this ballpark. His first career homer off Blanton came in his 50th at-bat against him. … The Angels have scored no more than three runs in any of Blanton’s last 10 starts while he was still in the game. … The Angels have played in a major league-high 26 games that were decided by a one-run margin (10-16). … The Mariners have hit 49 home runs on the road, compared to 29 at Safeco Field. … Mariners reserve 1B Alex Liddi was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to make room on the roster for Smoak.