SEATTLE (AP) — Los Angeles Angels starter Jason Vargas allowed just a pair of solo homers in pitching the eighth complete game of his career.
It still wasn’t enough to pick up his first victory of the season.
Pitching against his former team, Vargas allowed just six hits and struck out seven over eight innings of work. But Jason Bay and Michael Morse each homered off Vargas late as the Mariners rallied to hand the Angels a 2-1 loss on Sunday.
“Just a couple mistakes there late and Bay and Morse didn’t miss them and that ended up being the ballgame, be he pitched a great game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “If he pitches like that he’ll win a lot of games for us.”
Vargas (0-3) made a pair of mistakes with his fastball in the late innings that the Mariners took full advantage of. Jason Bay jumped on a first pitch fastball in the seventh inning and Morse capitalized on a 1-2 pitch in the eighth for a pair of solo shots that sunk the Angels. Both pitches were left over the middle of the plate and landed in the Angels bullpen behind the left field wall.
Morse’s blast in the eighth put the Mariners on top for the first time in the game. Carter Capps (2-1) got the victory and Tom Wilhelmsen closed for his ninth save.
“It was just a bad pitch,” Vargas said. “Trying to go away — straight down the middle with nothing on it.”
Vargas’ changeup had fooled Mariners hitters throughout the game. Bay had stuck out twice against Vargas’s changeup and Seattle couldn’t find any solid contract at the plate. It forced the Mariners to try and take advantage of any fastball left over the plate.
“His changeup was really good today. Really good,” Bay said. “I was trying to get to a situation where I didn’t have to see the changeup.”
Despite Vargas’ performance, the Angels lineup couldn’t do any damage of their own against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
Iwakuma allowed only an unearned run over six innings of work as he continues to battle a bad blister on his middle finger. Iwakuma struck out eight over six innings, giving up just three hits and walking none.
“He don’t throw nothing straight,” Mike Trout said of Iwakuma. “You can’t really sit on any pitches. He had a good plan today — kept us off balance. Every time we face him he is a tough one to beat.”
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the sixth after Andrew Romine led off with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Peter Bourjos.
Romine scored when a groundball from Trout scooted underneath the glove of shortstop Robert Andino for an error.
Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton combined to go 0 for 12 against Mariners pitching on Sunday. Los Angeles hit just .161 over the final two games of the series.
“(Iwakuma) pitched well, just like Felix (Hernandez) pitched well yesterday,” Scioscia said. “At some point to have to be able to beat good pitching and we weren’t able to do it this series.
NOTES: Mariners OF Michael Saunders could rejoin the team on Monday following a Triple-A rehab stint. He sprained his right shoulder on April 11 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Saunders played in the field for the time for Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday. … Iwakuma lowered his ERA to 1.67 for the season. … Kyle Seager snapped a 16 game hitting streak with an 0 for 4 performance Sunday. … Angels OF Peter Bourjos extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single to lead off the game.