SEATTLE — Michael Saunders’ two-run homer helped the Seattle Mariners defeat the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3, in the finale of a three-game set at Safeco Field.
Raul Ibanez and Mike Zunino each added an RBI as well for the Mariners, who swept the Angels for the first time since 2006. Saunders’ blast extended Seattle’s franchise record to 22 consecutive games with a home run.
“Baseball is certainly fun right now, there’s no question,” said Saunders. “We’re all feeding off each other, the energy is high right now. We’re playing great ball.”
Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4), a 2013 All-Star who will not be participating in the event, surrendered three runs on seven hits and a walk while fanning seven in seven frames. The win ended a three-game losing skid and a five-start winless drought for the Japan native.
Tom Wilhelmsen faced the minimum in the ninth to grab his 19th save of the season and secure the first series sweep for Seattle this year.
If there was an award given to the pitcher with the most losses in the first- half of the season it would go to Joe Blanton (2-12). He yielded four runs on five hits and four walks over just four-plus innings of work, his shortest outing of the year.
“Hopefully a nice All-Star break, a four-day refresher can get me back,” said Blanton.
Mark Trumbo had a solo home run and Alberto Callaspo drove in two runs for the Angels, who head into the Mid-Summer Classic as losers in four of their last five games.
Following a one-out base hit by Justin Smoak in the second, Saunders stroked a home run to right field to put the Mariners on the board.
Kyle Seager singled on a line drive to left and Smoak worked a walk to begin the fourth inning. After Seager moved to third on a flyout, Mike Zunino hit a sac fly to right to make it 3-0 Seattle.
Trumbo cut the deficit to two on the first pitch of the fifth with a home run, his 21st of the season.
The Mariners responded quickly. Brad Miller singled, then Nick Franklin drew a walk to put the first two on in the home half. Ibanez smacked a double to the right-field wall to plate Miller and chase Blanton from the game. Michael Kohn took the mound and after an intentional walk to load the bases, he fanned the next two to escape further trouble.
With Mike Trout on first and two outs in the sixth, Howie Kendrick doubled to left to put runners on second and third. Callaspo made the Mariners pay for intentionally walking Trumbo, delivering a two-out, two-run single to pull the Angels within 4-3.
The Angels had an opportunity in the eighth when Albert Pujols greeted Charlie Furbush with a leadoff double to left. Furbush came back and recorded two flyouts and a strikeout to hold the lead for Seattle.