Angels end scoring drought with late home-run flurry against Mariners
The Angels pounded three home runs off David Pauley to send them on the way to a 5-3 victory at Safeco Field Monday night.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In one dugout were the Mariners, who had scored 99 fewer runs than any other team in the American League.
In the other dugout were the Angels, who came to Seattle riding a 26-inning scoreless streak, having plated just one run in their just-concluded series with Baltimore — and that in the very first inning. On a balk, no less.
It had all the earmarks of a pitchers' duel — or, more accurately, a hitters snooze. And for five innings, the two teams played to form, plodding through a scoreless tie that seemed possible to stretch into eternity.
But in the sixth, the Angels ended their drought with a vengeance, pounding three home runs off David Pauley to send them on the way to a 5-3 victory at Safeco Field Monday night.
"For them to come in with 26 (scoreless innings) and think they're going to leave here and double that total, that's probably not realistic," Mariners manager Daren Brown said. "I thought Pauley really did a nice job for five innings. In the sixth inning, he left some pitches up in the zone and they didn't miss them."
Pauley took a two-hit shutout — one of the hits a bunt single — into the sixth. But leadoff hitter Peter Bourjos, the rookie center fielder whose arrival pushed Torii Hunter into right field, blasted a 1-0 pitch over the center-field wall. That ended the Angels' scoreless streak at 31 innings, two shy of the club record.
They liked it so much that Bobby Abreu, with two outs, hit a copycat homer to virtually the same spot in center. And after a Hunter single, Hideki Matsui crushed yet another round-tripper to right for two more runs.
"It's frustrating," Pauley said of his recent propensity for a mid-game meltdown. "The first five innings are good, and all of a sudden the game speeds up. It's hard to explain, but very frustrating."
Ervin Santana, meanwhile, was cruising along with a shutout until the seventh, when the Angels helped the Mariners break into the run column. It started with a routine pop-up by Jose Lopez that dropped between third baseman Alberto Callaspo and shortstop Erick Aybar on a communication mix-up.
With one out, Franklin Gutierrez singled, and both runners moved up on a Santana wild pitch. Michael Saunders, returning to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 21, hit a soft fly to right that Hunter got a poor jump on, and it dropped in front of him for an RBI single. Another run came home on Adam Moore's sacrifice fly.
The Angels, however, added a run in the eighth on a balk by Sean White after Jamey Wright had walked the bases loaded.
Fernando Rodney picked up his first save since the Angels traded closer Brian Fuentes to Minnesota last week, preserving Santana's 14th win. But it didn't come without adventure.
After Rodney walked the first hitter, Casey Kotchman, Gutierrez hit a liner to center that ate up Bourjos, getting past him for a double. Gutierrez raced around second, only to scramble back when he realized Kotchman was holding at third.
First baseman Juan Rivera sprinted to second base to cover the open bag, and put the tag on Gutierrez after receiving a toss from Aybar. Second-base umpire Jerry Meals called Gutierrez out, a decision disputed first by Gutierrez, then Brown, to no avail.
"I don't know what he was seeing," Gutierrez said. "I thought I was safe; he called me out. There's nothing to say. I saw a replay. It was obvious."
Saunders flied out, and after a Rodney wild pitch allowed Kotchman to score, Moore flied out to the track in center to end it.
Earlier in the game, Gutierrez had another baserunning misadventure, getting thrown out at third by Bourjos trying for a triple on a drive off the scoreboard in left.
"He had a realistic chance," Brown said. "I don't mind that type of aggression in a 1-0 game."
One highlight for the Mariners was a spectacular double play started by shortstop Josh Wilson in the fifth. With Aybar on first, Jeff Mathis hit a hard grounder up the middle. Wilson made a diving stop, flipped the ball from his glove to Chone Figgins, who made a sharp relay to first.
"Figgy was calling for the ball," Wilson said. "I did what I could to get it to him as fast as I could."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.