Angels 5, Mariners 2

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SEATTLE (AP)—John Lackey doesn’t want to make too much out of his start.

“It’s a long season,” the Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher said. “I’m not going to evaluate where I am right now. I’m just going to keep working hard at it and hopefully in the end the results will be good.”

The results were good for Los Angeles in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. The Angels won their season-high third straight game and got a two-run homer from 40-year-old Steve Finley.

The defending AL West champs lead the division by 2 1/2 games over Texas.

Los Angeles shut out Seattle 5-0 on Monday night, and Angels pitchers have allowed only three runs in their last 31 innings. The Mariners are hitting only .182 (12-for-66) in the first two games of the series.

Lackey (3-1) won consecutive starts for the first time this season, pitching 6 2-3 innings and allowing one run on six hits, a walk and a wild pitch. The nine strikeouts were one shy of his career high and the most by an Angels pitcher this season.

“I felt pretty good for the most part tonight,” Lackey said. “I located my fastball pretty well to set up my breaking ball. It was probably my best fastball-breaking ball this year.”

Scot Shields pitched the final 2 1-3 innings to pick up his second save in three opportunities. Seattle scored a run in the ninth when pinch-hitter Shin-Soo Choo had an RBI single for his first major league hit and RBI.

The Mariners have lost four straight, their longest losing streak of the season. They also dropped to 4-9 at home.

As a rookie for the Angels in 2002, Lackey pitched and won Game 7 of the World Series, 4-1 over San Francisco. But he was only a combined 24-29 in 2003 and 2004.

The Angels took a 3-0 lead in the first off Gil Meche (2-2) on Chone Figgins’ run-scoring single, Garret Anderson’s RBI fielder’s choice and Orlando Cabrera’s RBI single. Cabrera’s hit broke an 0-for-12 drought.

“That’s always a key when the guys give you a lead,” Lackey said. “You want to go out there and put up some zeros and give your team momentum in the game.”

Finley hit his second homer in two nights and sixth of the season, a two-run shot to right field off Meche, to give the Angels a 5-1 lead in the eighth. Four of Finley’s last five hits have been homers.

Finley is hitting .170 in his first season with the Angels after spending 12 seasons in the National League. He’s batting fifth in the lineup behind Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero.

“He had a big one tonight and a big one last night,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need production from Steve. We know that. He’s an important part of our lineup. You can’t really sit back and count on Vlad and G.A. We need him to get going.”

Meche went eight innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, with five strikeouts.

“The first inning was just a little whacky and the eighth inning I made a bad pitch,” Meche said. “That’s how the game went.”

Seattle got its run in the second when Richie Sexon hit a 429-foot homer to center, his seventh of the season.

The Mariners loaded the bases in the fifth, but Lackey struck out Adrian Beltre to end the threat. Lackey also struck out Ichiro Suzuki for the second time in the game in the inning. Shields also struck out Suzuki in the ninth to end the game. Suzuki struck out three times in a game since last Aug. 28 at Kansas City.

“That was a big one right there,” Lackey said of his strikeout of Beltre. “That’s a guy who had a huge year last year who can hurt you.”

Beltre, who led the majors with 48 homers with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season and then signed a $64 million contract as a free agent to come to Seattle, is hitting .229 with his new team, the Mariners. He’s 0-for-8 in the series and is 0-for-his-last-12.

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove held a meeting with his hitters before the game and told them they were trying too hard. He told them to relax. Beltre swung at a ball on a 1-2 pitch.

“Adrian obviously swung at a bad pitch to strike out. He got him to fish for it,” Hargrove said.

The Angels won for the 10th time in 13 games at Safeco Field in the past two seasons.

Notes

Figgins was the designated hitter. He filled in at second base while Adam Kennedy was recovering from knee surgery. Kennedy made his season debut Monday night. Scioscia said he wants to play Figgins virtually every day at DH, 2B, 3B, SS and CF. Figgins was 2-for-4 in the game and is 13-for-27 (.481) on the Angels’ eight-game road trip that ends Wednesday in Seattle. … The Mariners’ Wilson Valdez ended an 0-for-20 slump with a single in the fifth.

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