Mariners 8, Angels 1

Leave it to a most unlikely pair to finally awaken Seattle’s

offense from the offensive doldrums.

And for young Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders, his first

major league homer came with some extra special meaning.

Josh Wilson and Saunders hit back-to-back home runs in Seattle’s

four-run fourth inning, and the bottom of the Mariners lineup

helped break out of their offensive doldrums with a 8-1 win over

the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

Seattle’s lackluster offense cost hitting coach Alan Cockrell

his job Sunday morning. Hours later the bats came alive in time to

avoid the first winless homestand of more than four games in team

history. Seattle had been swept by Texas and Tampa Bay, and dropped

the first two games to the Angels before finally snapping an

eight-game losing streak.

Music and a little bit of laughter was finally back in the

Seattle clubhouse after its first win since April 28.

“For us to come in joking and not worry about the next day …

I think every one is just going to back off a little bit and just

play baseball,” Seattle starter Jason Vargas said.

Saunders thought his drive was headed for a double, and instead

became a special Mother’s Day moment.

His mother, Jane, is undergoing treatment for cancer that has

come and gone for more than a decade. It contributed to some of

Saunders’ struggles early in the season at Triple-A Tacoma. He was

called up earlier this week when Milton Bradley was placed on the

restricted list while dealing with personal issues.

With his mom wearing one of his old jerseys and keep score in

her scorebook, Saunders followed up Wilson’s three-run home with a

solo drive off Angels starter Ervin Santana that barely cleared the

wall in right-center field. While Saunders raced around the bases,

his mom was getting a round of high fives from others sitting

nearby.

“It wasn’t the biggest thing for me to get my first home run,

but to have her in the stands when I did it was the biggest thing

for me,” Saunders said.

Saunders later added an RBI single in the eighth, and the bottom

three in Seattle’s lineup combined to go 6-for-11 with six

RBIs.

Vargas (3-2) continued with his strong performances of late,

pitching 7 1-3 innings, scattering four hits and one unearned run

and getting backed by an offense that scored just 12 runs in its

previous eight games.

Wilson’s homer was the crucial blow for a team desperately

seeking a big hit.

With two outs, Santana (1-3) walked Ken Griffey Jr., then walked

Ryan Langerhans on a 3-2 pitch. Wilson jumped on a slider over the

middle of the plate for his first homer since Aug. 27, 2009 and the

sixth of his career. It was the first multihomer game for Seattle

this season and the first Seattle homers by someone other than

Franklin Gutierrez since April 23 at Chicago.

“Those two walks, that was the game right there,” Santana

said. “After that I just kept battling, trying to make my

pitches.”

Gutierrez added an RBI double and Seattle scored more than four

runs for the first time since April 28 at Kansas City.

The offensive “eruption” was plenty for Vargas. Since his

first start of the season at Texas, Vargas has allowed three earned

runs or less in his last five starts.

Working quickly and in rhythm, Vargas scattered just singles and

let his defense do the work. Vargas struck out four, and got 15 fly

ball outs. The Angels threatened in the seventh with runners on

first and third and no outs, but Vargas got Howie Kendrick on a pop

out, struck out Mike Napoli and saw Brandon Wood fly out to end the

threat.

Los Angeles got an unearned run in the eighth on an error and

wild pitch.

NOTES: Seattle 1B Casey Kotchman sat Sunday with a sore right

ankle after getting hit by a pitch late in Saturday’s loss. … May

continues to be Santana’s worst month of his career. He fell to

7-12 all-time and hasn’t won in May since 2008. … Seattle SS Jack

Wilson will participate in a simulated game before Tuesday’s series

opener in Baltimore and if all goes well will start that night

against the Orioles.