Lopez connected against closer Brian Fuentes(notes) for his second homer in two nights, and Yuniesky Betancourt(notes) delivered the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 10th to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Fuentes was brought in to preserve 30-year-old rookie Matt Palmer’s(notes) sixth victory without a loss in seven starts. But Lopez had other ideas. He drove a 1-1 pitch to left field with one out, after the left-hander gave up singles to Adrian Beltre(notes) and Russell Branyan.
“I was looking for one pitch to try to go deep and tie the game,” said Lopez, whose homer off John Lackey(notes) in Friday night’s 5-2 victory just cleared the outstretched glove of left fielder Juan Rivera(notes). “It’s tough when you try to hit a homer. But in that situation, I want to swing hard and hit the ball good. It’s tough to hit a homer off a closer, especially a lefty.”
The blown save was the third for Fuentes in 16 attempts, and his fourth in his last 40 overall. The left-hander signed a two-year, $17.5 million contract with the Angels in December to replace Francisco Rodriguez(notes), who left to sign with the New York Mets as a free agent after setting a major league record with 67 saves last season.
“It’s deflating for the whole team. It’s not just about me,” said Palmer, who was back in the clubhouse getting his arm iced when Lopez hit the home run. “You don’t like when that happens. But if I had everything to do all over again, I’d do it the same exact way. We have a great closer, one of the best in the game, and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else. We have great relievers, and I believe in them just as they believe in me.”
Wladimir Balentien(notes) led off the 10th with a double against Jose Arredondo(notes) (1-2), advanced on a sacrifice by Franklin Gutierrez(notes) and just beat the throw home from left fielder Gary Matthews Jr.(notes) after he caught Betancourt’s flyball near the foul line. The Angels responded with an appeal play, but were turned down by plate umpire Paul Emmel.
“I knew I didn’t leave early. It was the winning run - I watched until I saw him catch it,” Balentien said. “It was a good throw, but I saw the catcher move to the outside to take it so I slid to the inside. It was close.”
The victory made the Mariners 2-22 when trailing after eight innings. The Angels are 22-3 when leading after eight.
Maicer Izturis(notes) led off the Angels seventh inning with a grounder to first base that Branyan misplayed for one of Seattle’s AL-worst 41 errors. One out later, Erick Aybar(notes) drove a 1-0 pitch by Felix Hernandez(notes) over the head of center fielder Gutierrez for a double that broke a scoreless tie.
Hernandez was charged with an unearned run and six hits over 6 2-3 innings and struck out six. The 23-year-old right-hander finished the month 1-4 with a 4.34 ERA in six starts, after going 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts during April. Over his career, he is 6-12 with a 5.25 ERA in May—the only month in which he’s had a losing record.
“Felix set the tone tonight. He really attacked out there, he pitched with passion. He gave us every chance to win,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Ichiro(notes) Suzuki was 1 for 4 with a first-inning single that extended his hitting streak to 23 games, equaling the second-longest of his big league career and putting him within two of the franchise record he set in 2007.
Palmer scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings in his seventh big league start, striking out five and walking none. He was helped by three superb defensive plays turned in by first baseman Kendry Morales(notes) to end the first, third and fifth innings.
The National Anthem was sung by Katie Stam, who was crowned Miss America on Jan. 24. She is from Seymour, Ind., a town that produced only one major league player—2B Scott Earl, who played in just 14 big league games with Detroit in September 1984 and was 4-for-35 with one RBI and nine strikeouts.