Noesi goes eight, handles Pujols, but it's not enough

Noesi goes eight, handles Pujols, but it's not enough

Noesi goes eight, handles Pujols, but it's not enough
SEATTLE -- After Albert Pujols continually beat the Mariners with home runs in three straight games, Seattle starter Hector Noesi did a nice job to keep the Angels slugger in the ballpark Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately for Noesi, he could not do the same with Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo, who each hit a solo home run as the Angels swept the four-game series with a 4-2 win.

Morales' shot in the fourth went 10 rows deep in the center-field seats at spacious Safeco Field, padding the Angels lead, 2-0. Trumbo again gave the Angels a two-run lead in the seventh, cranking a ball off the left-field facade. Both home runs came on 0-2 pitches.

"It's not like the pitchers we're facing are slouches," Trumbo said. "We've faced some really good arms recently. We just had a few more productive at-bats, got some bunts down, moved some guys over that maybe we haven't been doing. And because of that, we've been winning some more games."

Noesi lasted eight innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. It's the third time the first-year starter has gone eight innings this season, proving to be a nice surprise for Mariners manager Eric Wedge.

"A couple of two-strike pitches hurt him, but Hector pitched another great game," Wedge said. "It's been a lot of fun watching him progress. He's consistently getting us deep into the ballgames and giving us every opportunity to win. I can't say enough about his performance.

"We've got to do better offensively. It's hard to win up here if you have to be perfect out there on the mound. I think our pitching staff's doing a nice job controlling what they can control and making pitches. You're going to make a mistake now and then, but to go eight innings and just give up three runs, you're giving your team every opportunity to win."

The Mariners finally gave Noesi some offense in the fourth. With two outs, Jesus Montero ripped a 3-2 pitch into the left-center-field gap for a double, their first hit of the day. Justin Smoak followed with a single through the right side. Montero was able to score on the play, as the throw home bounced up the third-base line.

The Mariners cut the Angels lead to 3-2 in the seventh when Montero walked, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a grounder. Seattle was unable to hit him in, but it caught a break when Montero scored on another wild pitch.

Continuing a disturbing trend, the Mariners went just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-2 when they were down just a run in the eighth. During the four-game series, the Mariners struck out 40 times and hit just .148 (18-for-122).

One of the lone bright spots was Smoak, who had two of Seattle's three hits and the only RBI, and is now hitting .306 (11-for-36) with three home runs in his last nine games.

"I was impressed with Smoak today," Wedge said. "The way he was out over the plate and lining a couple balls the other way. Had some good swings, had some good takes. The guy was pitching a good ballgame. You got to be aggressive at times and you got to wait him out at times. I felt like we didn't do enough of one and too much of the other."

Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @jlieb24 This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.