The Seattle Mariners have had no trouble rebounding from their longest losing streak of the season.
Seattle looks to move a step closer to the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night when the division rivals continue a key three-game series at Safeco Field.
Although they lost seven straight from July 21-26, the Mariners (58-46) didn’t play poorly during that stretch with five of those defeats coming by one run.
They followed that skid by scoring 25 runs in three straight wins over Oakland, and took Monday’s series opener 2-0 behind an outstanding pitching performance from Miguel Batista.
Batista allowed four singles in seven innings, and Ichiro Suzuki had three hits as Seattle moved within three games of the Angels (61-43) and 1 1/2 games of wild card-leading Cleveland.
“We know how important it is to put the pressure on now,” Batista said.
Batista cooled off an Angels team that had scored 34 runs during a three-game sweep of Central leading-Detroit over the weekend. It was only the second time in the Angels’ 47-year history that they scored at least 10 runs in three consecutive games.
“Sometimes, things switch like that,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “But overall right now I’d say we are in better shape than we were three weeks ago.”
Seattle improved to 35-19 at home, including 22-7 in its last 29. Only Cleveland (36) and Milwaukee (36) have won more home games than the Mariners.
Ichiro’s three-hit performance was his fifth multihit effort in his last seven games. He is batting .347, four points behind league leader Magglio Ordonez of Detroit.
“We have a discussion every night about Ichiro,” Seattle manager John McLaren said, shaking his head about his seven-time All-Star. “I’m running out of superlatives.”
Los Angeles, which was shut out for the sixth time this season, has hit only four home runs in its last 22 games. The Angels are tied with Kansas City for the fewest homers (68) in the AL.
Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero went 1-for-4, striking out against Seattle closer J.J. Putz on three pitches in the ninth inning. Guerrero hasn’t homered since June 23, a span of 28 games and 113 at-bats.
That lack of power, however, hasn’t kept Los Angeles from ranking fifth in the AL with 524 runs scored.
Angels ace John Lackey (12-6, 3.27 ERA) was in line for his 13th win Wednesday after limiting Oakland to three runs and seven hits over six innings, but Francisco Rodriguez blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning. The Angels, though, pushed across a run in the bottom of the inning for a 7-6 victory.
Wednesday’s outing marked the fifth time in six starts that Lackey limited the opposition to three earned runs or fewer. He has been particularly good on the road, going 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 11 starts.
Lackey gave up four hits in six innings in a 5-0 victory at Seattle on May 16, and is 7-8 with a 4.61 ERA in 19 starts against the Mariners.
Seattle’s Richie Sexson is batting .375 (9-for-24) with two home runs against Lackey.
Jeff Weaver (2-9, 5.96) hopes to snap a personal three-game losing streak with his first win in over a month. The right-hander has only two victories in nine starts since returning from a month on the disabled list, despite having allowed three runs or less eight times in that span.
Weaver gave up three runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings Thursday of a 6-2 loss to Oakland, and dropped to 0-3 in five starts since beating Boston on June 25.
He lasted only three innings in a 6-1 loss to the Angels on April 22, giving up three runs and seven hits. Weaver is 5-5 with a 2.72 ERA 11 career starts against them.