Rookie Jesus Montero parked two home runs off the American League’s hottest pitcher, Jered Weaver, and the Mariners handed the Cy Young candidate his first loss since the middle of May by beating the Angels in Anaheim 4-1 Sunday afternoon.
Weaver entered the game 15-1, 2.13 ERA, but the Mariners shooed him in the seventh.
The Mariners finished the nine-game trip with 3-6 record, but with consecutive wins over the third-place Angels. As much as Montero, LHP Jason Vargas was the story in this game. Vargas collected his team-high 13th win by holding the Angels to seven hits, largely by throwing first-pitch strikes nearly 80 percent of the time.
Vargas (13-8), who has won six of his past seven starts, struck out five and walked only one over 8.1 innings, using primarily change-ups and breaking balls. At one point, Vargas retired 13 consecutive hitters. He went to a three-ball count just three times in throwing 69 of his 96 pitches for strikes.
“It felt great, but it was pretty hot out here today so I’m glad it’s over,” said Vargas, who roomed with Weaver when they attended Long Beach State.
Asked about opposing Weaver, Vargas said, “We knew it was going to be tough facing him, a friend of mine. I’m just glad we came out on top. I think (Jesus) Montero won the game for us. I can’t say enough about him hitting two home runs off a pitcher like that.”
The key for Vargas Sunday: “Getting back to using my change-up and working the front and back of the plate.”
Montero banged his 11th home run of the season in the second inning on a 1-1 count and, after Vernon Wells drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to tie in the bottom of the frame, ripped his 12th, a two-run bomb with John Jaso aboard, in the sixth.
Montero has three hits off Weaver this season, all home runs.
The Mariners carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth and, with one out, collected a fourth run when, following a Jaso walk, little-used Chone Figgins tripled him home.
Vargas came out for the ninth in an attempt to record his third complete game. But when Vargas gave up a one-out triple to Howie Kendrick, manager Eric Wedge brought in closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who fanned Eric Aybar and induced a game-ending fly ball from Wells to notch his 16th save.
The Mariners return to Safeco Field Monday for a nine-game, 10-day home stand against the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. RHP Blake Beavan, who has won his past four decisions and is coming off a no-decision against Baltimore, goes for the Mariners Monday. He will be opposed by RHP Alex Cobb.
NOTES: The Mariners held Albert Pujols to 0-for-12 in the series . . . Mike Trout, the American League’s leading hitter, went 0-for-4 Sunday . . . Montero, who had Seattle’s only multi-hit game Sunday, is batting .480 over his past seven games, including six multi-hit games . . . John Jaso’s stolen base in the third inning was his third of the season. He’s 3-for-3. . . . Michael Saunders went 0-for-4 Sunday and finished the road trip 2-for-33 . . . Mike Carp, who started, left the game with tightness in his left hip . . . Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was scheduled to begin a minor league rehab stint Sunday with the Class A Everett AquaSox, but the return of headaches canceled that plan, according to manager Eric Wedge. Gutierrez, 29, has been out six weeks since suffering a concussion when he was hit in the head with a pickoff throw. He’d been working out the past few days with Everett after Triple-A Tacoma went on the road and the club felt he was ready to begin playing games until the headaches returned . . . Reliever Charlie Furbush pitched a perfect inning of relief Saturday for Triple-A Tacoma as he continues his rehab from a strained left biceps. Wedge said he’ll remain with the Rainiers and pitch a few more innings before a decision is made on his return to Seattle.