A Nelson Cruz solo home run gave the slightly erratic Felix Hernandez just enough room to help the Mariners to their ninth win in 10 games, a 3-2 triumph Tuesday night (box) in Anaheim, the Angels’ 11th consecutive loss. The Mariners (63-54) crept past Detroit in the wild-card standings but remain two games behind the final playoff spot held by Boston.
In the seventh and trailing Seattle 3-2, the Angels had a one-out double from rookie LF Nick Buss, who homered in the second on the first career pitch he saw from Hernandez. An out later, Hernandez walked Calhoun. Manager Scott Servais replaced Hernandez with Tom Wilhelmsen to face CF Mike Trout, who homered in the fifth — his career seventh off King Felix.
The runners advanced on a passed ball by C Mike Zunino. On a 3-2 pitch, Trout sent a ball to deep left, but Nori Aokl ran it down in front of the 390-foot sign to retire the side.
For the third year in a row, Cruz has hit at least 30 home runs, this one in the top of the fifth that gave the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
In the fourth, Cruz and 3B Kyle Seager began the inning with walks off Angels starter Ricky Nolasco. 1B Adam and Zunino followed with singles that brought in two runs.
The Mariners had nine hits, including two each by Lind, Cruz and Zunino.
In 6.2 innings and 108 pitches, Hernandez gave up four hits and struck out eight — including six in a row — but walked four and hit one. Wilhelmsen came on to get Trout in the seventh, then had a 1-2-3 eighth — as did Edwin Diaz in the ninth. Wilhelmsen lowered his ERA to 1.68 since he was waived by Texas and re-joined the Mariners.
Despite allowing a runner to reach scoring position in each of the first three innings, Hernandez held on for his eighth quality start in a row in Anaheim. He also moved past Roger Clemens for the record for most strikeouts against the Angels with 325.
“We caught a little break. (Tom) threw a breaking ball not in the right spot. But in a streak, sometimes you get lucky. When Mike Trout is at the plate and the ball comes off his bat like that in the air, it’s not a good feeling . . . he hit it to the deepest part of the park.” Servais on Trout’s at-bat against Wilhelmsen
Still experiencing soreness after being struck on his elbow with a line drive a week ago, LHP James Paxton was moved back from his scheduled start Tuesday. He could go on the 15-day disabled list. Over his past four games, Paxton has a 1.59 ERA. Ariel Miranda will move up a day to take his place in the rotation. The Wednesday starter has not been chosen, but likely will be Joe Wieland, who made an emergency start Friday in Oakland. Taijuan Walker is not going to be recalled from AAA Tacoma yet . . . After being designated for assignment Wednesday, utility INF Luis Sardinas was wanted by San Diego, so the Mariners traded him to the Padres Monday for a player to be named or cash. Sardinas became expendable with the development of INF Shawn O’Malley and the pickup of INF Mike Freeman off waivers from Arizona . . . In a 2-11 August, the Angels have been outscored 83-46.
Game two of the four-game series is 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, with Seattle sending out Miranda, acquired from the Orioles for Miley July 31, who is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in seven innings over two outings, including one spot start. The Angels send out RHP Jhoulys Chacin (2-6, 6.00).