SEATTLE (AP) — Pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick broke a tie in the top of the ninth inning with a two-run single off Seattle closer Brandon League, and the Los Angeles Angels rallied from a 4-0 deficit for a 6-4 win over the Mariners on Friday night.
Albert Pujols homered for the second straight game, a three-run shot in the sixth inning on a 0-2 pitch from Seattle starter Blake Beavan. His sixth homer of the season accounted for all of the Angels offense until the ninth-inning rally against Seattle’s shaky closer.
With Seattle holding a 4-3 lead heading to the top of the ninth, League (0-4) failed for the third time in his last five save opportunities.
Mark Trumbo opened the ninth with a single, but it was League’s throwing error on Erick Aybar’s sacrifice bunt that allowed pinch-runner Peter Bourjos to score the tying run. After an intentional walk, Kendrick lined the first pitch from League back up the middle to give the Angels the lead.
Scott Downs pitched the ninth to close out the comeback and earn his fourth save. The Angels have won four straight for the first time this season.
Downs got help from rookie Kole Calhoun, who made a leaping catch on Brendan Ryan’s liner to open the ninth inning. Downs then got a groundout from Michael Saunders and fly out by Alex Liddi to close out the win. It was just the sixth save of the season for the Angels.
Jason Isringhausen (1-0) got the win pitching one inning of relief for the Angels.
League seemed to right himself from his recent struggles with a strong close to the Mariners’ win over Texas on Wednesday. But it all fell apart in just a few batters against the Angels.
After Trumbo’s single he was replaced by Bourjos, and League was too fine facing Alberto Callaspo and walked him on a 3-2 pitch.
Aybar followed with a bunt, but it came right back to League. With catcher Jesus Montero yelling “third” League threw to try and get the lead runner, but his throw was wide of Liddi and went bouncing down the left-field line allowing Bourjos to score the tying run and put runners and second and third with no outs. Calhoun was intentionally walked to load the bases and Kendrick laced a liner past League and into center field for the winning runs.
It was League’s third blown save in his last five chances dating to April 30 and all four of League’s losses this season are blown saves.
The meltdown by League ruined a strong start from Beavan, who made just one mistake in seven innings. Beavan had allowed one baserunner to reach second before he ran into trouble in the sixth. John Hester led off with a single and Beavan missed on a 3-2 pitch to Maicer Izturis. He quickly got ahead of Pujols 0-2, but instead of throwing out of the strike zone, Beavan left a fastball up and on the outer half of the plate. Pujols’ response was a 410-foot line drive into the seats in center field. It was his third homer in four games and followed his two-run shot in the first inning in Thursday’s series opener.
Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer, had an RBI single and drove in all four runs for Seattle, but the Mariners missed numerous chances to capitalize on the wildness of Angels starter Ervin Santana early in the game. Santana walked seven, one off his career high.
Notes: Santana had a 2.25 ERA and a 2-2 record in his previous five starts after beginning the year 0-4. … Hall of Fame pitcher and one-time Seattle starter Gaylord Perry threw out the first pitch. Perry won his 300th career game with Seattle in 1982. … Seattle 2B Dustin Ackley was given the game off on the night his bobblehead was being given out as a pregame collectable for fans. “I’m surprised I haven’t gotten a phone call,” manager Eric Wedge jokingly said before the game.