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Angels defeat Mariners for first time this season

The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- After his latest start, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Garrett Richards talked about the importance of confidence for any young player trying to make it in the big leagues.

Two starts into his first season as a full-time starter, Richards has confidence in droves.

The 25-year-old right-hander threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball to help the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners for the first time this season with a 2-0 win Wednesday night. Seattle (5-3) beat the Angels in all five previous meetings this season.

Richards (2-0) struck out six while dropping his season ERA to 0.75.

"With experience, the game has slowed down a little bit for me," he said afterward.

The Mariners had only one hit all night, thanks to a scoreless inning apiece from reliever Joe Smith and closer Ernesto Frieri, who earned his first save of the season. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon didn't need to search too hard to find an excuse for his team's lack of offense.

"When you run into a buzzsaw like (Richards), who's throwing 95-96 (miles per hour) and throwing an 86, 87-mile-per-hour slider over for strikes," he said, "it's going to be a long night."

Los Angeles (4-5) got all the offense it needed in the third inning, when designated hitter Albert Pujols hit a two-out, two-run homer off Seattle starter Roenis Elias (0-1).

Elias, a 25-year-old Cuban making his second major league appearance, allowed two runs off four hits over five innings of work.

"He threw the ball a lot better," McClendon said of Elias. "Obviously, he left the changeup up to Pujols, and he's going to hit that. But other than that, he threw the ball well."

Center fielder Abraham Almonte got the only Seattle hit on a one-out single in the third.

The Mariners only had three runners in scoring position all night, and none after the third inning. The closest Seattle got to scoring a run came in the third inning, when Almonte's single and a Los Angeles error put two runners on with one out. The runners moved to second and third base on a Robinson Cano groundout but got stranded there when Richards struck out cleanup hitter Justin Smoak to end the inning.

The Mariners threatened again in the bottom of the ninth, when a one-out walk to Smoak brought up Tuesday night hero Corey Hart to represent the tying run. Hart, who hit two home runs the previous night, struck out before Frieri induced a Kyle Seager grounder for the final out.

In two starts this season, Richards has allowed just four hits and one run over 12 innings of work.

"(Richards') confidence is high," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And I think when you're confident, you're pretty comfortable and you're going to make those pitches. I think that's the next step Garrett's taken. He's getting to know his stuff better."

For the second night in a row, Pujols opened the scoring with a two-run homer. The designated hitter took Elias deep in Wednesday's third inning, giving Los Angeles a 2-0 lead. Pujols hit his first homer of the season in the first inning Tuesday.

"For Albert to get early runs, even though it was only two, it really helped Garrett to make some pitches that allowed him to have a margin of error," Scioscia said.

NOTES: Angels OF Josh Hamilton is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks after an MRI exam on his left thumb revealed a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and a torn capsule. Hamilton suffered the injury during the seventh inning Tuesday while making a head-first dive into first base. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and replaced on the roster by OF J.B. Shuck, and on Friday the Angels expect to know whether Hamilton will need surgery on the thumb. ... Mariners LHP James Paxton was placed on the 15-day DL. He left his start Tuesday after just 60 pitches due to a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. ... The Mariners recalled LHP Lucas Luetge from Triple-A Tacoma to take Paxton's spot on the roster. ... Angels SS Erick Aybar was a late scratch Wednesday due to pregame dental work. John McDonald took his spot and batted ninth in the order. ... Seattle RHP Hisashi Iwakuma threw 34 pitches in a bullpen session before Wednesday's game, marking the first time he threw off a mound this season. He is on the DL with a strained middle finger in his right hand.
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