Angels pour it on late to top Mariners

Angels pour it on late to top Mariners

ANAHEIM -- Pitching has been a problem for the struggling Angels of late, but Matt Shoemaker solved that issue for a day at least as he held the Mariners to two runs over seven innings on Thursday night as the Halos rolled to a 6-4 victory.

Shoemaker (7-13, 4.14 ERA) continued his excellence at Angel Stadium, where he's posted a 1.21 ERA over his last eight starts. The 29-year-old right-hander allowed just five hits, with the Mariners only damage against him coming on solo home runs by Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.

The Mariners narrowed the final margin with catcher Mike Zunino's two-run homer in the ninth off reliever Fernando Salas.

The win was just the Angels' second in their last 14 games, with red-hot leadoff man Yunel Escobar racking up three more hits and scoring twice as he hiked his average to .320. Escobar is 8-for-9 over the last two games, while catcher Jett Bandy launched a solo homer in the fifth and Albert Pujols added a two-run double in the eighth to give him 95 RBIs on the season. More >>

Hisashi Iwakuma (14-8, 3.78) took the loss despite allowing just six hits and three runs, two earned, over seven innings. With a split in the four-game series, the Mariners now head home with a 64-56 record as they fell seven back of idle Texas in the American League West and three back of the second Wild Card berth. More >>

"Obviously you'd like to do better, but you win the road trip, that's pretty good," third baseman Kyle Seager said after the Mariners went 4-3 against the A's and Angels. "This is a tough league. You can take positives from that. You can always wish you did better."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Cano connects early again: Cano jumped on a first-pitch fastball in the first inning off Shoemaker for his 27th home run, which is already tied for the fourth-most he's ever hit in a season and his most with Seattle. Cano has feasted on first-pitch offerings all year as he's now hitting .440 (40-for-91) with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs when he makes contact on the initial pitch in an at-bat. The 40 first-pitch hits and 27 RBIs are the most in the Majors this year by any batter and the 10 homers is tied with Chris Davis of the Orioles.

Cano's solo smash

If the Shoe(maker) fits: Shoemaker's seven-inning stint was exactly what the Angels' depleted bullpen needed, after their previous four starters exited in the sixth, sixth, fifth and fourth innings.

"To sit back and get 21 outs from him, that's really the way you draw it up, " manager Mike Scioscia said.

"He's got the good splitter and the fastball was getting on us pretty good, too," Seager said of Shoemaker. "He's tough when he's locating. We had a couple opportunities, but we couldn't really get much going."

Shoemaker solid in seven innings

Cruz crush: The only offense the Mariners could muster against Shoemaker came on the long ball … and Cruz went deep indeed with a solo shot in the sixth that measured out at 421 feet, per Statcast™. Cruz connected on a 2-2 changeup for his 31st homer of the year. The high, arching blast cut the Angels lead to 3-2 and moved Cruz into a tie for third in the Majors, four back of MLB leader Mark Trumbo of the Orioles. But that was all Seattle could do until Zunino's blast in the ninth.

"We just didn't get the big hit with runners in scoring position tonight,' manager Scott Servais said. "We had seven or eight chances. Shoemaker threw the ball well."

The Bandy Man can: Bandy hit his second home run of the series and eighth in 45 games on the season. It was a line shot down the left-field line with one out in the fifth inning. Bandy hit two homers in 24 games at Triple-A Salt Lake before his May 20 callup. His career best at any pro level is 13 in 2014 for Double-A Arkansas.

Bandy's solo homer

QUOTABLE
"I got a 'tweener. I should have either charged or backed up , but I got right no-man's land. I got stuck." -- Seager on his first-inning error on a hard-hit liner by Pujols that led to the unearned run, coming on the heel's of his game-saving stop in Wednesday's win

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Angels are 30th and last in baseball with just 46 quality starts. Shoemaker got his team-leading 14th in this one.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Angels won a fifth-inning challenge at first base when Nori Aoki was ruled out after the replay review. It was the Angels' 15th successful challenge in 28 tries.

Aoki out after challenge

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: Veteran southpaw Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 4.68 ERA) faces Brewers lefty Brent Suter, who is making his Major League debut, in Friday's 7:10 p.m. PT series opener at Safeco Field. LeBlanc will be making his ninth start since being acquired from Toronto in late June and the Mariners are 7-1 in his previous outings.

Angels: Jered Weaver (8-10, 5.32 ERA), who has not won in his past five starts, opens the three-game series Friday night against the Yankees at Angel Stadium. Weaver last won July 17 against the White Sox, although the Angels are 2-3 in his five starts since then. The right-hander is 7-6 with a 6.08 ERA in 16 career starts vs. New York.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011.

Earl Bloom is a contributor for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.