Angels 8, Mariners 0
SEATTLE (AP)—Gary Matthews Jr. found that sometimes less is more. Less thinking. Less selectivity. Less remembering his last home run.
Matthews hit two homers, his first home runs in six weeks, John Lackey threw a seven-hitter in his first complete game of the season and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 8-0 on Tuesday night.
“You can tell yourself it’s part of the game, that sooner or later it will balance out,” Matthews said of his homerless drought, which had reached 35 games. “But when you come into the clubhouse after a game, you’re not happy. And you’ve got all night to think about it.”
The Angels won for the fifth time in six games, one night after getting shut out on four hits. Los Angeles increased its lead over Seattle to four games in the AL West.
Lackey allowed six singles and a double in his second scoreless start this season—both against the Mariners—a feat he attributes to using more diving, split-fingered pitches against Seattle than he does against anyone else. His only complaint with his night was Ichiro Suzuki bunting for a single and then stealing second base with the score 8-0 in the eighth.
Two batters later, former Angel Jose Guillen thought Lackey may have been trying to hit him with the second of two pitches near his head.
“What do you think went through my mind?” Guillen said.
Lackey denied that.
Seattle’s four-game winning streak ended in part because Jeff Weaver allowed six runs and seven hits in four miserable innings that were reminiscent of his first six weeks this season, after which he was 0-6 with a 14.32 ERA.
Matthews, who signed a $50 million, five-year contract before the season, got back on track. He was really struggling mentally before talking things over with members of the Angels coaching staff. The message, according to Matthews: “Let it go.”
“They told me, ‘Don’t be so selective,”’ said Matthews, whose second home run came in the ninth off Mark Lowe.
Matthews had four hits to tie a season high and drove in three runs. It was his third career multihomer game, second of the season. He also had two homers on May 13 at Texas. He hadn’t homered since June 17, an inside-the-park homer. “Dodger Stadium, last time we were in interleague. We don’t pay attention to that type of stuff,” he said, smiling.
The Angels hit four home runs, including a rare one from Maicer Izturis and another from Orlando Cabrera, who had a season-high four RBIs. Los Angeles had hit four home runs total in 22 games before Tuesday.
“I’m no good at math, but you are probably going to win most of the time when you do that,” Lackey said.
Lackey’s first shutout since last July 14 against Tampa Bay came when his team needed him to step up. He has a reputation of being strongest when games matter most—a reputation that began in 2002 when Lackey became the first rookie to win a Game 7 of the World Series since 1909.
“I knew it was an important game,” Lackey said, mindful the Mariners are trying to make a charge. “We needed the win.”
Weaver (2-10), who lost his fourth consecutive start, got four consecutive outs to begin the game before he walked Casey Kotchman on four pitches. Then he threw an 89 mph rig-high fastball to Matthews, who sent that gift over shrubs beyond straightaway center field for his 11th homer of the season.
Weaver stood with hands on hips and yelled at himself. His manager, John McLaren, later said he was “trying to settle him down a little bit.”
But Weaver was yelling again three pitches later when Izturis turned on a high pitch for his second home run this season. His first homer since April 29 landed 10 rows into the right-field bleachers to make it 3-0.
The lead became 6-0 in the fourth. Willits singled and moved to third on single by Figgins. Figgins stole second and scored behind Willits on Cabrera’s chopper over the head of shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who was playing in with the rest of the infield.
“They came back with a vengeance from yesterday and made me pay for trying to be too fine,” Weaver said.
Lackey has nine career complete games, and six shutouts. … RHP Bartolo Colon threw on flat ground for the first time since he went of the DL July 24 because of right elbow irritation. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he is not sure when his starter will progress to throwing off a mound. Dustin Moseley will make his second consecutive fill-in start Friday at Oakland. … Beltre’s 30 RBIs in July tied him with Alex Rodriguez (1999) and Ken Griffey Jr. (’96) for Seattle’s most RBIs in July. … Ryan Budde of the Angels made his major league debut pitch hitting in the ninth. He flew out to left.