SEATTLE (AP) — If the Los Angeles Angels are going to turn around their stumbling start, Mike Scioscia needs better, longer outings from his starting pitchers.
Joe Blanton managed to make it into the seventh inning on Saturday night and it wasn’t enough for the Angels.
“I think at some point these starters have to get deeper if we’re going to get rolling the way we need to,” Scioscia said.
Kendrys Morales snapped a 2-all tie with a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh inning, Felix Hernandez allowed just one earned run and five hits over eight innings, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Angels 3-2 on Saturday night.
The Mariners were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and suffering through another miserable night without clutch hitting before Morales’ line-drive single off reliever Michael Roth that scored Kyle Seager with the go-ahead run.
Jesus Montero hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning for Seattle to pull the Mariners even.
That was all Hernandez (3-2) needed. He stumbled only in the third inning when Chris Iannetta led off with a homer and the Angels added an unearned run. Hernandez won at home for the first time this season.
The Mariners’ ace continued a dominant run over his past three starts. He’s allowed just two earned runs in 22 innings and struck out 28 over the three outings. Luis Jimenez put a scare into Hernandez leading off the eighth, lining a 2-2 pitch home run distance down the left-field line but about 5 feet foul. Hernandez came back to strike out Jimenez, get Peter Bourjos on a ground out and fly out from Mike Trout.
After helping cut down Mark Trumbo on an attempted squeeze play at home plate in the fourth inning, Hernandez retired the final 14 he faced. He walked one and struck out seven.
“It’s tough to have a rock solid plan with him out there,” Trumbo said. “Today he seemed to be favoring more of a cutter.”
Hernandez was at just 95 pitches after eight innings, but Seattle manager Eric Wedge decided to go with closer Tom Wilhelmsen for the ninth. Josh Hamilton singled with one-out, but Wilhelmsen struck out Trumbo and got Howie Kendrick to line out for his seventh save.
“I felt a little tired today. … I said, `I’m good with that. Give it to (Wilhelmsen).’ He’s the closer,” Hernandez said. “It’s early in the season. I feel good about it.”
Blanton was given a 2-0 lead after the Angels got to Hernandez quickly in the third. Iannetta led off with a homer on the first pitch of the inning and his first career hit off Hernandez.
Bourjos reached with a one-out single, then stole second and advanced to third when Montero’s throw was wide and went into center field. The error proved costly as Trout followed with a sacrifice fly and a 2-0 lead.
The Angels tried to squeeze home a third run in the fourth inning after Kendrick’s single put runners on the corners with one out. Brendan Harris’ bunt went directly toward the mound, where Hernandez quickly fielded and flipped it with his glove to Montero, who went to his knees to block the plate and tag Trumbo for the second out of the inning.
The Angels didn’t get another base runner until Hamilton’s one-out single in the ninth.
“He is an athletic dude. It was a real nice play by him,” Trumbo said. “I’ve seen him make good plays in the past.”
Blanton (0-4) struck out four and walked four, but allowed base runners in every inning and escaped trouble only because Seattle continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.
Seattle pulled even in the sixth when Montero tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run homer to left center. Seattle’s rally continued in the seventh when Seager led off with a single to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest current streak in baseball and was followed by a single from Michael Morse that ended Blanton’s night.
Roth struck out Justin Smoak, and Wedge called back Raul Ibanez in favor of Morales, who lined a 1-0 pitch to give the Mariners the lead.
“Everything is just a little off right now,” Blanton said. “Sometimes when I walk a few more guys everything goes way off. Right now it’s just a tick off. It needs to be cleaned up.”
Notes: Trumbo singled in the second inning off Hernandez and has reached base in all 23 games this season for Los Angeles. … Seattle could win its first series of the season with a win on Sunday. … Mariners prospect Abe Almonte hit for the cycle on Saturday night for Double-A Jackson. He’s the second Seattle minor-leaguer to hit for the cycle in the past two weeks, joining Carlos Trunifel, who did it for Triple-A Tacoma on April 17.