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Mariners rally to defeat Angels

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Robinson Cano came with all the hype warranted by a $240 million contract, but it was a pair of the Seattle Mariners' highly touted youngsters who came up big on Opening Day.

Mike Zunino, 23, and Abraham Almonte, 25, had the game-tying and game-winning hits in the seventh inning, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead Monday night at Angel Stadium.

Justin Smoak's three-run homer and Dustin Ackley's three-run triple in the ninth sealed the 10-3 victory.

All the late offense made a winner out of Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who started slow but finished strong. Hernandez (1-0) gave up a two-run homer to Mike Trout in the first inning, but settled in and struck out 11 in six innings to earn the victory.

"Two-run homer in the first inning, and I was, really? Really, Felix?" Hernandez said. "After that I was really comfortable and throwing a lot of strikes, just attacking the strike zone."

The win was also the first for Lloyd McClendon as the Mariners new manager, but he was happier for Hernandez than himself.

"Given the history of what Felix has done for this organization, the battles that he's had, the lack of wins, it was really special to see our guys come back and win that ballgame," McClendon said. "I was really happy for Felix."

Though the Mariners put the game away with a six-run ninth, the game was tight before then. The seventh inning was the key for the Mariners when Ackley singled with one out off Weaver.

Zunino ultimately struck out four times in the game, but the one time he got wood on the ball he made up for it. He followed Ackley with an RBI triple to tie the game at 3 and knock Weaver out of the game.

Fernando Salas took Weaver's place and gave up an RBI double to Almonte, leading the Mariners to their eighth straight Opening Day win.

The loss for the Angels was a brutal reminder of last season, when their bullpen struggled most of the season. Kevin Jepsen entered in the top of the ninth with the Angels trailing just 4-3, but he gave up the three-run homer to Smoak, then walked the next two hitters and was taken out of the game.

Nick Maronde entered, walked the first hitter he faced then yielded the three-run triple to Ackley, sending the sellout Angels crowd into the night.

"These guys are better than they showed tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They threw the ball well all spring, they have good arms, they didn't get it done tonight. We're going to turn the page on this."

Weaver (0-1) stifled the Mariners through five innings, allowing one unearned run and three hits as the Angels took a 3-1 lead. The Mariners cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth on Kyle Seager's RBI double, missing a chance for more when Logan Morrison was thrown out on the play, trying to score from first.

The Mariners came right back in the seventh, taking the lead and knocking Weaver out of the game. Weaver gave up four runs (three earned) and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"All in all it was a good outing (for Weaver), he just had trouble finishing the seventh," Scioscia said.

The Angels got off to a quick start against Hernandez. Trout followed right fielder Kole Calhoun's leadoff single with a home run, giving Los Angeles a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The Mariners cut the deficit in half in the second inning, scoring an unearned run thanks to an error by second baseman Howie Kendrick. Right fielder Michael Saunders drove in the run with a sacrifice fly, scoring Smoak, who led off the inning with a double off Weaver.

First baseman Albert Pujols' RBI double in the third inning increased the Angels' lead to 3-1.

NOTES: Former Angels RF Vladimir Guerrero signed a one-day contract so he could officially retire as an Angel. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game to Don Baylor, the two being the only league MVPs in club history. While catching the pitch from Guerrero, Baylor hurt his right leg and had to be helped off the field. Baylor, 64, was taken to a local hospital where X-rays showed he has a fractured femur. He'll have surgery Tuesday. ... Hernandez made his seventh career Opening Day start, surpassing Randy Johnson for the most in Mariners history. Weaver made his sixth season-opening start, surpassing Mike Witt for the most in Angels history.
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