Wilson outdueled the former Angels left-hander with seven innings of two-hit ball, leading Los Angeles to a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.
“Every pitch counts, obviously,” Wilson said. “I had this exact kind of game to Jered Weaver a couple of years ago and lost 1-0 on a flyball that Endy Chavez dropped. Mike Trout scored the run after I hit him in the foot, so it was kind of like turnabout is fair play.”
Wilson (6-5) struck out three, walked two and allowed only two runners as far as second base en route to his fifth straight victory over the Mariners.
“I’ve faced these guys three times this year, and they pretty much have an idea of what my repertoire is. So it’s about executing,” Wilson said. “I can’t fool them on stuff right down the middle because they’re not going to get surprised if I throw a slider or a changeup, so I have to hit the corners.”
Saunders matched zeros with Wilson through five innings, scattering four hits before Trout legged out a leadoff double to left field in the sixth. He advanced after a flyball to right by Albert Pujols and scored on a 2-2 pitch to Mark Trumbo that bounced in the dirt and away from catcher Mike Zunino It was the first wild pitch of the season for Saunders in 89 2-3 innings to that point.
“It was a tough one, but I’m more mad at myself for letting a run score on a wild pitch,” Saunders said. “It was a changeup down. I was trying to get him to hit it on the ground.”
Kendrys Morales’ Baltimore-chop single toward third base leading off the second inning was Seattle’s only hit until Kyle Seager’s leadoff single in the seventh. But Wilson froze Raul Ibanez on a called third strike in the seventh with runners at first and second, and escaped the inning unscathed when Trout ran down Zunino’s drive in front of the bullpen fence.
“It’s Mike Trout. Put a cape on him. He’s great out there,” Wilson said. “That was one of the few curve balls I threw all night, and he was looking for it. It was a strike and he hit it. I was lucky that he didn’t hit it higher.
“… They put a lot of balls in play, so it really wasn’t a really dominating game for me. I was just making good pitches, but I don’t think I had exceptional stuff. That’s why I wasn’t able to get the strikeouts, which usually are kind of my bail-out if there’s a problem in the inning.”
“It’s one of those things where runs were hard to come by tonight,” Saunders said. “We didn’t score any runs, so you’ve just got to hang with him. He stepped up his game and I stepped up my game, and it was one of those pitchers’ duels. I just picked the wrong day to pitch.”
Saunders (5-7) went the distance for the ninth time in 204 career starts, allowing six hits over eight innings with three strikeouts and two walks. A first-round draft pick by the Angels in 2002, he made only one other start against them since he was traded to Arizona in July 2010 for Dan Haren That was on June 16, 2012, at the “Big A,” when he lost 2-0 on a two-run homer in the first inning by Trumbo.
Slumping Josh Hamilton was dropped to seventh in the Angels’ lineup by manager Mike Scioscia, one night after he grounded into double plays his first three times up and struck out twice. It was the first time that the 2010 AL MVP started a game in the seven hole since Aug. 5, 1990, with the Texas Rangers. But the change didn’t help, as he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and saw his average dip to .210.
“We’ve got to figure out something,” Hamilton said. “Some players wear emotions on their sleeves and break things, but I’m not going to break my bat on the field because there’s kids watching. If they don’t think I care, they’re mistaken because it hurts me more than it hurts anybody not to be performing.”
NOTES: Peter Bourjos was stranded at third base in the third inning when Saunders induced a double-play grounder by Albert Pujols. The Angels have grounded into a major league-worst 77 DPs, 11 of them in the last five games. … Kendrick lined a single through the box in the sixth, knocking Saunders’ glove right off his hand. … Wilson, who spent his first five big league seasons as a reliever with the Rangers, reached the 1,000-inning mark when he retired Michael Saunders on a foul popup to end the second. … Erick Aybar got his 100th career stolen base and first since April 30, surpassing Dick Schofield as the Angels’ career leader among shortstops. … Wilson is 8-1 against Seattle in 10 starts since the beginning of the 2011 season.