ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels’ suddenly hot bats didn’t cool off on the flight home from Chicago.
Juan Rivera hit his third career grand slam, Tim Salmon had a homer and two RBIs, and the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 12-7 on Friday night for only their fourth victory in 14 games. The Angels have scored 24 runs in their last two games—two fewer than they had over their previous 11 games combined.
Kelvim Escobar (5-2) allowed six runs—five earned—and 11 hits in six innings, but two-time defending AL West champs compensated for the right-hander’s sub-par outing by matching their highest run total of the season.
“My only problem tonight was location, location, location,” Escobar said. “I felt real strong. And sometimes when you feel that way, you get away from your game and just try to overthrow the ball and not focus on hitting your spots and making good pitches. But it’s nice to see the boys swing the bats the way they are the last couple of games. On a night like this, you can afford to make mistakes and still get the win.”
Hector Carrasco allowed a run and three hits over the final three innings for his first save of the season.
Joel Pineiro (4-3) lasted three innings, allowing six runs and six hits in his first start since being named AL player of the week on Monday. The right-hander retired only nine of 17 batters after winning his previous three starts against the Angels.
Ichiro Suzuki opened the game with a triple to right-center and scored on a groundout by Raul Ibanez, but the Angels pulled ahead with five runs in the second after loading the bases with no outs. Mike Napoli and Adam Kennedy hit RBI singles, Chone Figgins had a sacrifice fly and Orlando Cabrera capped the rally with a two-run single.
“Pineiro won the last three against us, so it was nice to get him. Tonight was our turn,” Rivera said. “We had to respond with our bats and help our pitcher out a little bit more.”
Salmon led off the third inning with his fifth homer, extending his franchise record to 295. The 15-year veteran, who has more home runs than any active player who hasn’t gone to an All-Star game, needs one RBI to join Garret Anderson as the only players in Angels history with 1,000. He was out all last season after undergoing knee and shoulder surgeries.
“Sitting out all last year and part of the year before that was killing him,” said ex-teammate Jarrod Washburn, who will make his first start at Angel Stadium in an opposing uniform on Saturday night. “Tim would come around a lot last year and wasn’t sure how the rehab was going, but he kept working at it and wanted to go out on his terms instead of being forced out. I know he worked his butt off, so I was extremely happy to see that he was able to come back and be healthy enough to make the team and be out there.”
Seattle narrowed the gap to 6-5 with four runs in the fourth. Kenji Johjima singled home a run and Jeremy Reed followed with a three-run homer to center, his first of the season and fourth in 621 major league at-bats to that point.
Rookie reliever Bobby Livingston then gave up six runs in the bottom half of the inning on consecutive bases loaded walks to Anderson and Salmon and Rivera’s first grand slam since May 20, 2005. It was the Angels’ first slam this season and increased their lead to 12-5.
“It was hard to watch,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “The thing that was toughest to take was when Livingston came in and hit a batter and then walked in two runs. It was not pretty. It looked like both teams were going to score a lot of runs, but they just pitched a little better than us.”
The Angels, who came in with the second-fewest walks in the AL, have drawn 19 in their last two games.
“I think we’ve been working a little bit harder at it,” Rivera said. “Mickey (hitting coach Mickey Hatcher) has preached to us about going up there and not being afraid to take a walk. We saw it work in Chicago the last game and we saw it work tonight. Right now we’re being patient and we’re getting better pitches to hit that way.”
Adrian Beltre led off the eighth with a homer against Carrasco, only his second of the season. Beltre, who led the majors in 2004 with 48 homers for the Dodgers, has 21 in 736 at-bats since signing a five-year, $64 million contract with the Mariners as a free agent in December 2004.
“It was nice to see him get a little reward for hitting the ball good,” Hargrove said. “I’m just happy to see Adrian swing the bat the way he can. For the last two weeks, he’s been swinging the bat better and better. He’s got good bat speed, he’s staying on the ball longer and he’s not overswinging.”
Suzuki grounded into his first double play of the season in his 154th at-bat, but it took a slick play by 2B Kennedy to make it happen. Last season, Suzuki grounded into five double plays in 679 at-bats. … A one-out walk to Cabrera in the first ended a streak of 18 1-3 innings by Pineiro without allowing a walk. … Salmon’s home run was the 100th Pineiro has allowed in 879 1-3 career innings.