ANAHEIM, Calif. – No matter what the standings say, the Seattle Mariners played like one of baseball’s best teams in their last four games before the All-Star break.
And the Los Angeles Angels performed like one of the worst.
Miguel Olivo and Richie Sexson hit two-run homers in a five-run fourth, and the Mariners beat the Angels 7-4 Sunday to complete an improbable four-game sweep of the A.L. West leaders.
“This all started in Kansas City, we played well in Kansas City,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. “We just did not get the big hit like we did here.”
The Mariners lost two of three to the Royals earlier in the week.
“I think what we’ve seen the last seven days is more indicative of this team’s talent,” Hargrove said. “We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Everybody played their game and played it well.”
The Angels’ lead over second-place Texas was trimmed to five games, while the last-place Mariners are 12 1/2 games off the pace.
“The Angels have a good ballclub and they’re going to be tough to catch for anybody,” Hargrove said. “(But) we’re four games closer than when we got here.”
Even with the four wins, the Mariners’ 39-48 record is the third-worst record in the A.L. They’d lost 12 of 16 entering the series. The Angels (52-36) have the league’s second-best mark, and had won 13 of 16 coming in.
The winning streak is the Mariners’ longest since last August, while the skid is the Angels’ longest since last July.
“We didn’t do many things on the offensive side to get back into the games, and Seattle just flat-out beat us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “There’s no real way to sugarcoat it. We’re a much better club than we showed this weekend.
“We’ve hit a little bump in the road in these four games, but I don’t think it’s any reason to take the whole truck apart.”
The Mariners entered the series with the fewest runs and lowest batting average in the A.L., but outscored the Angels 33-13 and outhit them 47-32. Los Angeles has the A.L.’s second-best team ERA.
“We got taken behind the woodshed for four games,” Angels first baseman Darin Erstad said. “On paper, it shouldn’t look that way, but they’ve got some great hitters and they did the job. They jumped on us pretty good the first couple of nights.”
Gil Meche (9-6) earned the victory, allowing six hits and four runs in six innings.
“I was able to keep the fastball down, for the most part,” he said. “We came in here and played some real good baseball.”
Eddie Guardado, the fifth Seattle pitcher, worked the ninth to convert his 20th straight save opportunity and 21st in 22 chances.
The Mariners went ahead for good with their third five-run inning of the series. Willie Bloomquist and Jose Lopez hit back-to-back doubles to start the fourth, and Olivo followed with his third homer to chase rookie Ervin Santana (3-4) and make it 5-3. Kevin Gregg relieved, and gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki and Sexson’s 18th homer with two outs.
The Angels cut Seattle’s lead to 7-4 when Vladimir Guerrero opened the sixth with his 16th homer. Jeff Nelson struck out Guerrero with two outs and the bases loaded to end the seventh, and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
“It’s good to see the team get on a roll like this,” Nelson said. “We’ve been waiting for this to happen all year. To do it on the road is even better. This is the way I expected us to play in spring training.”
The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the first on two-out, RBI singles by Juan Rivera and Bengie Molina. The runs were unearned because Erstad reached base on interference by catcher Olivo.
The Mariners tied it in the third on a two-run double by Raul Ibanez. The Angels went ahead 3-2 in the bottom half when Erstad scored while Juan Rivera was grounding into a forceout.
Santana allowed six hits and five runs in three-plus innings.
The Angels hadn’t been swept at home in a four-game series since the Mariners accomplished the feat in April 2002. … Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and Bloomquist has hit in a career-high eight straight. … Erstad also reached on interference by Olivo in the first inning Thursday night. … Meche struck out the side in the second. He had only one other strikeout in the game. … Scioscia said there’s a good chance OF Steve Finley (strained right shoulder) and SS Orlando Cabrera (strained right elbow) will be activated at some point during the Angels’ four-game series in Minnesota that begins Thursday night.
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