Haren, Callaspo lead Angels' sweep of Mariners
Dan Haren was within one out of his second straight complete-game victory over an AL ace when he saw manager Angels manager Mike Scioscia leaving the dugout to pull him.
Although his fans groaned en masse, Haren really didn't mind his slightly early exit. The way Los Angeles is playing, Haren thinks it's tough to complain about anything at all.
Alberto Callaspo hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, Haren pitched five-hit ball before falling tantalizingly short of another complete game, and the Angels rolled into the All-Star break with their 14th victory in 17 games, 4-2 over the struggling Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Mark Trumbo homered in his third straight game for the Angels, who swept the four-game series and remained one game behind similarly streaking Texas atop the AL West standings.
While Trumbo and Callaspo came through with big hits, the Angels relied on another outstanding effort from Haren (10-5), who has won four straight starts - the past two in impressive company.
The right-hander pitched a two-hitter to beat Detroit ace Justin Verlander 1-0 last Tuesday, and he outlasted Seattle's Felix Hernandez on a sweltering afternoon at Angel Stadium.
''It's been a tough week with Verlander and Felix,'' Haren said. ''I wanted that last start before the break, but getting matched up with those guys was tough. We were able to win both games, though.''
Haren had eight strikeouts and allowed just one runner to reach third base in the final eight innings.
After he left, All-Star closer Jordan Walden struck out Franklin Gutierrez on nine pitches for his 20th save, wrapping up the Angels' 11th win on a 13-game homestand.
''We're really together right now, and having a lot of fun,'' said Torii Hunter, who had two hits, scored the tiebreaking run and made a spectacular leaping catch in right field. ''Sweeping a major league ballclub is tough, but since we were here, we might as well sweep them, right?''
Hernandez pitched seven innings of six-hit ball, walking one and striking out six while heading to the All-Star break on a three-start winless skid.
After Hernandez finally left his 109-pitch start, Callaspo drove a two-out pitch from reliever David Pauley (5-3) into the gap, scoring Hunter and Howie Kendrick.
Hernandez is 0-4 in 10 starts at Angel Stadium since 2006, and hasn't beaten the Angels anywhere in seven starts since Sept. 2, 2009.
The defending AL Cy Young Award winner was chosen for his second All-Star team, but won't be allowed to pitch in Phoenix after starting Sunday.
''I'm not really happy,'' Hernandez said. ''It's disappointing. That homer was a mistake that I made, and they made me pay. They're playing pretty good baseball right now. I knew it was going to be a tough series.''
Adam Kennedy hit a two-run single in the first inning for the Mariners, who have lost five straight - and for the second time in nine days, a Seattle opponent mistakenly drew a walk on a three-ball count.
Bobby Abreu took first base with a 3-1 count in the third inning, and neither home plate umpire Gerry Davis nor the Mariners' dugout protested.
On July 2, San Diego's Cameron Maybin drew a three-ball walk and eventually scored the only run in Seattle's 1-0 loss.
At least this walk didn't hurt the Mariners when Abreu was stranded at first base. Manager Eric Wedge claimed he didn't mind the mistake, saying he preferred Hernandez's matchup with right-handed hitters Vernon Wells and Kendrick over the left-handed Abreu.
The Mariners have lost 15 of their past 17 games in Anaheim. The young club has fallen 7 1/2 games behind Texas heading to the break.
''The fight has been good,'' Wedge said. ''I think all the experience of these close games, that's definitely going to come back and help us. We're just looking to be more consistent.''
Haren didn't allow a run in his previous two starts, but the streak ended quickly on a sweltering afternoon at Angel Stadium. Brendan Ryan singled and Dustin Ackley walked before Kennedy's two-out single to right scored both runners.
Trumbo, who hit a game-ending homer Friday night and added another on Saturday, connected for a tying two-run shot off Hernandez in the fourth inning. The Angels' slugging rookie has been a revelation while filling in for injured first baseman Kendrys Morales, finishing the first half with a team-leading 17 homers to go with 41 RBIs.
''I try to go up there confident against anybody, but against (Hernandez), you really just try to shorten up your swing and hope for the best,'' Trumbo said.
Haren had retired 12 straight before Ackley led off the ninth with a double, and Kennedy missed a one-out homer into the right-field corner by just a few feet before Scioscia pulled him.
NOTES: Kendrick's 18-game hitting streak ended, but he's headed to his first All-Star game. ... Mike Trout went 0 for 3 and made his first error in the top prospect's third game with the Angels. Trout committed his two-base error on the first career hit for Mariners 3B Kyle Seager, who went 0 for 10 in his first three games against the Angels. ... Abreu's three-ball walk was the 1,400th of his career, third-most among active players.