SEATTLE (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels made a rare five-man infield work for them and still couldn’t win a critical game in the tight AL West race.
Greg Dobbs singled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning, giving the Seattle Mariners a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night and preventing the Angels from widening their lead over second-place Oakland.
Los Angeles lost its second straight game against the Mariners and failed to take advantage of the Athletics’ 5-2 loss at Cleveland. The Angels (81-63) lead the A’s (80-64) by one game and scored just one run for the second straight night.
“It doesn’t matter what you lose by,” Darin Erstad said. “We are obviously pitching fantastic, but, hitting-wise, it has been hit or miss. It’s been very frustrating.”
Scot Shields relieved, and the Angels brought in center fielder Maicer Izturis, creating their five-man infield. Richie Sexson grounded into an unusual 4-8-3 double play started by second baseman Adam Kennedy, who threw to Izturis, who then threw to Erstad at first.
“If they do hit the ball on the ground, we’re trying to make the most of it and force the action,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “That part of it worked. Unfortunately, we couldn’t close it out.”
Reed held on the play, and the Angels intentionally walked Adrian Beltre, who took second on defensive indifference. Dobbs then singled to center on a 1-0 pitch to end it.
“I wasn’t trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs, 27, Seattle’s designated hitter, watched attentively from the bench when Izturis joined the Angels’ infield.
“Interesting,” Dobbs said with a smile. “It worked for them. I’d never seen that before in my career.”
Seattle got its 63rd win, matching the Mariners’ total last season.
“I don’t look at this as a last-place team,” Byrd said. “Even though they have some young guys, they’ve played well against us and we don’t underestimate them.”
Byrd allowed two runs—one earned—and eight hits in eight-plus innings, throwing 86 pitches. He had been 6-0 against Seattle in his career coming in.
“I still felt like I had 30 pitches left,” he said. “I felt like I could throw 11 or 12 innings tonight. That’s what so tough. It was kind of a wasted start for me.”
The Angels loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth on a hard single by Orlando Cabrera off Beltre’s glove at third, Garret Anderson’s ground-rule double and an intentional walk to Vladimir Guerrero, the first walk of the game.
George Sherrill then replaced Ryan Franklin and got Erstad to ground to Beltre, who stepped on third for the forceout and threw to catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who tagged out Cabrera for a double play. J.J. Putz (6-5) relieved and got Bengie Molina to ground out.
“You’ve got to be able to handle the pressure,” Sherrill said. “You can’t be afraid of failure.”
Franklin, suspended from Aug. 2-11 after testing positive for steroids, allowed a tying single to Molina with two outs in the seventh. Franklin is 0-3 in seven starts since beating Cleveland on July 30.
“I think it’s important to pitch well against everyone,” Franklin said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing against a contender or a third- or fourth-place team.”
Chone Figgins extended his hitting streak to 12 games, one shy of his season high, with a single in the first. Figgins then was caught stealing for the 15th time this season, second most in the AL behind the Chicago’s Scott Podsednik (20).