Third time with his arm: Iwakuma drops Halos

Third time with his arm: Iwakuma drops Halos

Third time with his arm: Iwakuma drops Halos
ANAHEIM -- The Mariners put a crimp in the Angels' playoff push with a 9-4 victory on Thursday, snapping the Halos' five-game win streak and leaving them two games back of the A's in the AL Wild Card chase.

Seattle has plenty of voice in that race as the Mariners now travel to Oakland for their final road series of the season before closing out at home with three games against the Angels.

But the Mariners are more worried about their own business than ruining other people's parties, even after sending 37,377 Angel Stadium fans home unhappy by scoring six runs in the final three innings.

"We like winning no matter what," said designated hitter John Jaso, who had three of Seattle's RBIs with a home run and double. "It doesn't matter what uniform is on the other side. I don't really want to get recognized as spoilers. We're just a team that is working to finish strong and take it into next year."

But manager Eric Wedge acknowledged there is great benefit to playing -- and winning -- in these tight situations, even with his team long out of contention at 73-83.

"It's great for our kids to be in the thick of all this right now," Wedge said. "For almost all of them, it's their first experience playing these kind of meaningful games here at the end of September. Every game we play is a playoff-type atmosphere the way these teams are fighting to get in there. It's great experience for our guys."

The Mariners broke things open with four runs in the seventh to make a winner out of Hisashi Iwakuma, who improved to 8-5 with six innings of two-run ball (one earned) while lowering his ERA to 3.32.

The nine runs -- bolstered by two insurance tallies in the ninth -- were the most scored by the Mariners since a 9-6 win July 17 in Kansas City.

"To put that big inning together was something we haven't done in a while," said Wedge, whose club ended a three-game skid. "This time of year against a club like that, it was good to see."

Iwakuma gave up just an unearned run in the second and then an RBI single in the fourth as he upped his record as a starter to 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 15 outings since moving into the rotation in midseason. He's 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA against the Angels.

"I've figured out who they are and I know how to pitch against them," Iwakuma said through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba. "I'm very comfortable against them."

Iwakuma got some help from a tremendous play by Franklin Gutierrez in the fifth as the Mariners center fielder ran down a deep drive by Mike Trout with a runner on first just before crashing into the wall.

Gutierrez, a 2010 AL Gold Glove winner, had the presence of mind to flip the ball to right fielder Casper Wells, who nearly doubled Chris Iannetta off first after the Angels catcher was rounding second when Gutierrez made the catch.

But Gutierrez, who had been thrown out at the plate for the final out in the top of the fifth, was taken out of the game in the sixth inning after feeling some dizziness.

"It was a tough play, I'm telling you," Gutierrez said. "He hit that ball pretty good and I just ran to the wall and made the catch and as soon as I caught it, I hit the wall pretty hard. I hit my wrist and my head and shoulder. A few minutes later, I started to feel dizzy from the impact, so I couldn't keep going, but I'm feeling better now."

His replacement, Trayvon Robinson, helped the seventh-inning rally with a bases-loaded walk against reliever Garrett Richards after the Angels intentionally walked Dustin Ackley.

"He was throwing good pitches, I'm surprised I laid off of them," said Robinson. "I'd faced him in Triple-A and he's got a lot of movement on his fastball and a good curve. That right there was probably the most calm at-bat I had all year, even in Triple-A, just staying within myself and making sure I didn't go out of my approach."

Jaso hit his 10th home run of the season, a two-run shot down the right-field line, to put Seattle up 2-1 in the fourth. He added an RBI double in the seventh in a 2-for-5 day with three RBIs while improving his team-leading average to .275.

The Mariners have homered in 16 straight games, tying for the second-longest streak in franchise history and three shy of the club record 19 set in 1999.

Seattle now has seven players with 10-plus home runs, its most since seven players achieved double-digit status in 2000.

The Angels have more to play for and their season could well come down to the last three games in Seattle, where the Mariners will roll out Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma and Blake Beavan in the final series. But the Halos know they'll need to be better than they were Thursday if those games are going to matter.

"We didn't play well enough to win today," manager Mike Scioscia said. "On the defensive side, we cracked some things open for them. Offensively it took us a while to get going. On the mound, we didn't make some pitches when we had to. Bottom line is we lost a baseball game."

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.