Hot-hitting Mariners outslug Halos in finale

Hot-hitting Mariners outslug Halos in finale

Hot-hitting Mariners outslug Halos in finale
ANAHEIM -- The suddenly potent Mariners offense flexed its muscles again Wednesday, outslugging the Angels, 8-6, to complete a nine-game road trip that showed a new side to a club that had finished last in the American League in scoring for three straight years.

The Mariners scored 66 runs in nine games, going 5-4 against three of the AL's hottest teams in the Rangers, White Sox and Angels.

"This was a big win and a good road trip," said manager Eric Wedge, whose team won its first series at Angel Stadium since May 2009. "Guys stepped up time and time again. I think when you look at what we did on this trip, it's a big step for us as a ballclub."

Kyle Seager continued his clutch hitting with four RBIs, a two-run double in the fifth and two-run single in the sixth. Of Seager's 36 RBIs this year, 22 have come with two outs, and all eight of Seattle's runs Wednesday came in that situation.

"That's going to be a big key for any team," said Seager, who hit .343 on the trip with nine RBIs. "If we can get two-out RBIs, that's big for the confidence and everything."

Michael Saunders capped off a sizzling road trip, during which he raised his batting average from .224 to a team-leading .277. Saunders went 3-for-5 with three sharp singles, making him 19-for-39 (.487) over the nine games with nine runs, five doubles, two home runs and five RBIs.

"The way Saundo is swinging the bat, I'm pretty sure he's upset we have an off-day tomorrow," said teammate Brendan Ryan.

Even a couple of the struggling Mariners hitters got into the act Wednesday. Mike Carp pushed a two-run double into the left-field corner in the second inning for his first extra-base hit since a home run May 20 in Colorado.

Ichiro Suzuki laced a run-scoring single that knocked out Angels starter Jerome Williams with two out in the sixth. The hit snapped an 0-for-20 streak for Ichiro, the second-longest hitless span of his 12-year career. He then stroked a solo home run in the eighth to make it 8-6, with his 2-for-5 night raising his average to .259.

"We had a great road trip," said Carp. "We went up against three of the hottest teams in baseball and we hung right with them. We banged the ball around a little bit. We're getting big hits in key situations, stuff we were missing out on earlier in the year. It's starting to click and it's a lot of fun when that starts to happen."

The offense was needed on a night the Angels kept coming back against Mariners right-hander Hector Noesi. Pitching a day sooner than normal to fill in for the injured Felix Hernandez, Noesi gave up six runs on four hits and five walks over four-plus innings.

It also took some stellar relief pitching from rookie reliever Stephen Pryor, who came into a tough spot with two on, one out and a 7-6 lead in the sixth. Pryor got Maicer Izturis to hit into a 3-6-1 double play on his second pitch, with a great turn by Ryan at shortstop to get the ball back to Pryor at the first-base bag.

"I was just trying to bust my butt to get over there," said Pryor, pitching just his third game since getting called up from Triple-A Tacoma. "That was a sticky situation there, and I was glad to get a ground ball to get out of it."

The 22-year-old pulled another Houdini act in the seventh, getting Howie Kendrick on an inning-ending double-play grounder to Ryan with runners on first and third after Albert Pujols had doubled and Mark Trumbo was intentionally walked.

"I hold my breath every time Kendrick is up there in situational at-bats, because he can get the barrel on any pitch," said Ryan. "He's a nightmare for opposing pitchers and teams. Pretty awesome for the kid to come in and get it done in that fashion. We'd probably rather take a 1-2-3, but it worked out perfect. High drama."

The only downside was the continued struggles of Noesi, who has surrendered six home runs in his last three starts and a team-high 14 for the season. Kendrys Morales belted an 0-2 fastball out to right-center in the third inning, a two-run shot that gave the Angels a 4-2 lead. Four of Noesi's last six home runs have come on 0-2 counts.

Those home runs have been the youngster's Achilles' heel, as he came into the game 11th in the American League in opponent's batting average at .229, and his .193 average against right-handers was second-best in the league.

Morales has done damage to all kinds of Mariners pitchers, as four of his seven home runs this year have come against Seattle, including three in this series.

But the Mariners hit back this time and headed home happy to begin a nine-game Interleague stand at Safeco Field.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.