Vargas baffles Angels, outduels Weaver

Vargas baffles Angels, outduels Weaver

Vargas baffles Angels, outduels Weaver
ANAHEIM -- Jason Vargas doesn't have the All-Star resume or sterling win-loss record of Jered Weaver, but the Mariners left-hander outpitched his former college teammate Sunday as Seattle knocked off the Angels, 4-1, on a 95-degree afternoon in Southern California.

Rookie catcher Jesus Montero hit a pair of home runs and Vargas did the rest as Seattle snapped Weaver's nine-win streak and dropped his record to 15-2 on the season.

"We know we've got to be good against a pitcher like that," said Vargas, who went 8 1/3 innings for his 13th win of the season. "We didn't really put the hurt on him, but when it counted, we scored. For us to win this series and go back home, it makes the road trip a little bit sweeter."

The Mariners took the series 2-1, a surprising turn of events after losing Friday's opener with Felix Hernandez on the mound. They wound up beating Dan Haren and Weaver to finish their road trip at 3-6 and are 53-63 overall.

"It was a great couple wins for us here," said manager Eric Wedge. "It was a tough, weird road trip with some different types of losses. A break here or there it's a completely different trip. But to come back and be able to snatch two here against a couple pretty good pitchers says a great deal to me."

Weaver had won his past nine starts and 10 decisions overall, but Montero has had early success against the lanky right-hander with three home runs now in two games, including one last year with the Yankees.

"Everybody knows he throws across his body," Montero said. "With him, I just try to sit in the middle and think about the middle and hit the ball to the middle. That's what I did. Thank God I hit the home runs and helped the team to win."

Montero gave Seattle a 3-1 lead with a two-run shot down the left-field line in the sixth and also led off the second with a solo shot to center that just cleared the glove of a leaping Mike Trout. He's now 3-for-6 with three home runs and four RBIs against Weaver.

The 22-year-old Venezuelan has been one of the top hitters in the American League this season against left-handers with his .361 average, but he has been improving lately against right-handers as well. He went 2-for-4 on Sunday to complete a torrid road trip during which he hit .406 (13-for-32) to raise his overall average to .272.

Vargas took advantage of Montero's offensive support to beat Weaver for the second time in their three meetings over the past two years.

Vargas gave up seven hits, including a one-out triple by Howie Kendrick in the ninth that brought in closer Tom Wilhelmsen for his 16th save. Vargas has been on a roll for the past six weeks and is now 6-1 with a 1.64 ERA over his past eight starts and 13-8 with a 3.56 ERA overall.

The savvy left-hander gave up a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Vernon Wells, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the third when he struck out Kendrick on a full-count changeup to keep the game tied at 1.

Vargas also pitched around a leadoff double in the fourth by Erick Aybar and retired the next 13 batters until Torii Hunter singled with one out in the eighth. But Vargas got Albert Pujols to ground into a double play to keep the score at 3-1.

"They had some balls creep in there that set them up to have big innings, but we were able to get out of it and make some big plays," Vargas said. "That double play in the eighth fired me up more than anything. Earlier it was hot and I was just trying to get in and out as quick as possible."

The Angels came away impressed.

"He obviously threw a great game," Pujols said. "He kept the ball down, he didn't make too many mistakes and that's pretty much it. He made his pitch when he needed to. Obviously we probably swung at some balls out of the strike zone, including myself.

"I think the last at-bat, he moved [the ball] good. If I would've gotten a walk, it would've been a little different scenario there. But he's a competitor, man. That's why he's so good -- he doesn't have to be overpowering. He just knows how to pitch, and you have to give those guys credit sometimes."

Montero's home run in the second ended Weaver's scoreless streak at 16 straight innings against Seattle. He'd allowed just one earned run in 27 innings in his past three starts against the Mariners.

Chone Figgins replaced Mike Carp in the sixth inning for the Mariners after Carp felt tightness in his left hip. The little-used Figgins tripled in John Jaso in the top of the ninth to give Seattle a 4-1 cushion.

"I can hit," Figgins said after his 2-for-2 day raised his average to .188. "It's that simple. I know I can hit. I know I can play."

Figgins had gone 0-for-7 since his last hit on July 2.

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.