Angels use early HRs to get past M's
Juan Rivera, Gary Matthews Jr. and Howie Kendrick accounted for the Los Angeles Angels' first three hits of the game with home runs, and Joe Saunders made the lead stand with four-hit ball for seven innings Thursday night for a 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Los Angeles took three of four from the reeling Mariners thanks to some stellar pitching from Saunders and about 1,000 feet worth of homers by the Angels.
Rivera welcomed back Seattle starter Erik Bedard - scratched from his last start with a bad hamstring - by hooking a 3-1 pitch just inside the left-field pole with two outs in the first. Two innings later, Matthews went deep for the first time since Sept. 23, also against Seattle, with a line drive into the Angels' bullpen in left.
Kendrick capped the night with a solo shot off reliever Garrett Olson with two outs in the eighth.
The three homers were the only hits for the Angels until Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar followed up Kendrick's homer with consecutive singles. Despite the lack of hits, Saunders made sure it was enough against Seattle's anemic offense that was shut out for the fourth time this season.
Only once did the Mariners get a baserunner to third against the Angels' ace lefty. And even then, Seattle flubbed its opportunity. With runners on first and third and two outs, Ichiro Suzuki got into a rundown between first and second. On third, Jose Lopez broke toward the plate but slowed when Kendrick looked toward home. Eventually Lopez ended up in a rundown and was tagged out by Figgins to end the inning.
About the only redeeming fact for Seattle's offense was slumping third baseman Adrian Beltre snapping an 0-for-23 skid with a single leading off the sixth. He was left standing at first as Mike Sweeney popped out to the catcher, and Wladimir Balentien and Russell Branyan both struck out.
Saunders (6-2) struck out three and walked three, improving to 6-1 all-time against the Mariners and bouncing back from his last start in Texas when Saunders was rattled for seven runs and eight hits by the Rangers.
Scot Shields pitched the eighth and Brian Fuentes worked the ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances.
Bedard (2-2) was held out of his scheduled start last weekend against the Red Sox when tightness in his hamstring kept him on the bench. And aside from the two homers Bedard kept the Angels offense in check. He just needed a lot of pitches to scrape through five innings.
Making his first start in 11 days and limited to less than 100 pitches, Bedard finished the fifth at 95, giving way to Seattle's bullpen. Aside from the two homers, Bedard struck out six and walked only two.
Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single on the second pitch of the game from Saunders. ... Former Mariners star Randy Johnson will get the start Friday night for the San Francisco Giants as they open an interleague series against Seattle. Johnson will be going for his 299th career victory. Johnson went 130-74 with Seattle.