BY SPNW Staff 11:29PM 04/09/2014

Pujols’ HR all Angels need vs. one-hit Mariners

After four games, Seattle saw its dominant run against the Los Angeles Angels come to an end Wednesday night at Safeco.  Right-hander Garrett Richards kept the Mariners hitters at bay over seven innings of one-hit ball. He allowed two walks and struck out six as the Angels won 2-0 — the first against Seattle (5-3) in five games.

Richards received all the run support he needed in the third inning when Albert Pujols hit a two-run home run into the Angels bullpen in left field. Ernest Frieri earned his first save of the season after allowing just a walk in the ninth, helping Richards improve to 2-0.

“I thought the young man for the Angels threw the ball extremely well,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Richards had great stuff all night. He was able to throw his breaking ball behind in the count. Hats off to him.

“Listen, when you run into a buzz-saw like that where a guy is throwing 96, 97 (mph) and he’s getting an 86-89 (mph) slider over for strikes, it’s going to be a tough night.”

The shutout was the first of the season for the Mariners offense. The lone hit came in the third inning when center fielder Abraham Almonte hit a one-out single. It was also the team’s best opportunity to score, but Justin Smoak went down swinging with runners on second and third to end the inning.

Despite the lack of hits, McClendon was pleased with the effort.

“I was extremely proud of my team tonight, although we lost the ballgame,” he said. ”I thought our energy level was great, we went up there with a purpose. We had what I thought were very good at-bats. They weren’t very  successful, but they were good at-bats, where we tried to get him deep into the count. He just was a little better than we were tonight and those things happen over the course of a 162-game schedule.”

Rookie Roenis Elias (0-1) took the loss. The 25-year-old Cuban pitched five innings, gave up four hits, one walk and struck out two in his second career start. He left one change-up up and it hurt him.

The homer was the 494th of Pujols’ career, moving him past Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig for 26th on the all-time list.

Los Angeles (4-5) had bad news earlier in the day. Outfielder Josh Hamilton suffered a ligament tear in his left thumb in Tuesday’s game when he slid head first into the first-base bag. Hamilton will undergo surgery later in the week and will miss six to eight weeks.

Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia looked at the news with a glass-half-full attitude, saying it is better to have it happen early in the season. The Angels called up outfielder J.B. Shuck.

Scioscia said the key for the Angels continues to be pitching.

“As we talked about all spring, our success is going to be fueled by what we do on the mound and I think that has been evident over the first week of the season,” Scioscia said. “When we pitch well, we win.”

Notes

  • Starter James Paxton was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday after an MRI test confirmed he suffered a strained lat muscle in Tuesday night’s start. Newly acquired starter Chris Young will make Paxton’s scheduled start Sunday. Paxton is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. The Mariners recalled left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge from AAA Tacoma to fill the 25-man roster spot.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma threw 34 pitches off a mound prior to Wednesday’s game as he works his way back from a hand injury he suffered early in spring training. Iwakuma threw mostly fastballs in the session. He will throw again off a mound Saturday, progressing to more off-speed pitches.
  • Seattle’s top pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker, pitched in a minor-league rehab outing in AA Jackson Wednesday night. Walker had five scoreless innings, throwing 84 pitches. He struck out 10, walked one and yielded three hits.

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