Mariners 9, Angels 4

BY foxsports • September 28, 2012

Right after Albert Pujols struck out to end the Los Angeles Angels' final home game of the regular season, Angel Stadium shot off a big blast of the postgame fireworks usually reserved for wins.

After 156 games, the Angels still don't know whether they'll be back home for the playoffs - and this disheartening loss suggested those fireworks might not be worth saving for October.

John Jaso hit a two-run homer and an RBI double for Seattle, and the Angels wasted a golden chance to get within one game of an AL wild-card spot with a 9-4 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

Vernon Wells and Alberto Callaspo drove in early runs for the Angels (86-70), who had won five straight and an AL-best 16 of 23 in September before fumbling an opportunity to close in on Oakland (88-68), which lost 9-7 earlier at Texas.

The Angels' clubhouse was quiet as the big-budget club packed for its final trip, hoping for solid play and some luck on the road.

''We had a chance to gain a game, but instead we're still the same,'' said Torii Hunter, who went 1 for 5 in perhaps his final home game after five seasons with the Angels. ''We have no idea if we're going to play another home game here, but we're not going to give up, ever. There's no way we're going to do that.''

Los Angeles remained stuck two games behind the Athletics with six games to play. The Angels also fell three games back of idle Baltimore (89-67), the wild-card leaders.

Dan Haren (12-12) yielded six hits and two earned runs in 5 1-3 innings, while Howie Kendrick had a two-run double in the eighth for the Angels, who finish the regular season at AL West-leading Texas (92-64) and Seattle. Haren, who struck out three and didn't walk a batter, had won four of his last five starts, but left trailing 3-2 before his bullpen gave up six runs.

''To not control our own destiny, that's not what we sought after,'' Haren said. ''We know what we're up against. We know we've got to go out and win tomorrow, and get some help. We've got to shrug it off and go play hard.''

Pujols had two doubles, but struck out with two runners on to end the game in perhaps the final home at-bat of the $240 million slugger's first season in Anaheim.

Los Angeles is in danger of missing the playoffs in three straight years for the first time since Mike Scioscia took over in 2000, but the majors' longest-tenured manager still has faith the Angels aren't finished.

''The momentum is crazy this time of year,'' Scioscia said. ''We need to get right back on the horse tomorrow. These guys have played well, especially in the last month. They know what's going on. They know the fine line we have to walk.''

Hisashi Iwakuma (8-5) pitched six innings of seven-hit ball, and the Mariners avoided a series sweep by blasting the Los Angeles bullpen, which held them hitless Tuesday.

Seattle took charge in a four-run seventh inning against the Angels' inconsistent bullpen, with Garrett Richards walking in a run and giving up run-scoring drives to Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero and Jaso as Seattle went up 7-2.

''I don't really want us to get recognized as spoilers,'' Jaso said. ''I'd rather be recognized as a team that wants to finish strong, and taking it into next year. But I think it's important and beneficial if good things happen down the stretch for us. ... There's a lot of guys in here that are showing really good potential at the end of the season, and that's what's important.''

Casper Wells singled and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning for Seattle, which will play a major role in the wild card race during the final games of its third straight losing season. The Mariners are headed to Oakland for a weekend series before returning home for three final games against the Angels.

''I think it's great for our kids to be in the thick of all this right now,'' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ''For almost all of them, it's their first experience playing a stack of meaningful games at the end of September, and every game we play is a playoff-type atmosphere. You could tell we got better as we worked through this series, and hopefully we'll continue that.

Iwakuma picked up his fourth win in six starts, repeatedly pitching out of trouble with the Angels' surging lineup.

Haren retired the first eight batters he faced, but Jaso connected on a two-strike, two-out pitch in the fourth, popping his 10th homer into the short right-field porch to put Seattle ahead 2-1.

Michael Saunders' single off Nick Maronde started the seventh-inning rally by the Mariners, and Trayvon Robinson drew a bases-loaded walk from Richards with one out. After Seager's single and Montero's sacrifice fly, Jaso chased Richards with a double.

NOTES: Angels LHP Andrew Taylor, a 34th-round draft pick in 2008, made his major league debut in the ninth. ... Angels C Chris Iannetta left the game in the eighth inning with leg cramps. ... Gutierrez made a spectacular running catch at the wall in center field in the fifth inning, robbing Mike Trout. Gutierrez was shaken up by his collision with the wall, and he left the game an inning later.