41-year-old Ibanez's homers power Mariners

Scott Johnson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners kept piling up runs, only this time they actually got a pitching performance good enough to produce a win.
Seattle ended a three-game losing streak by pounding out four home runs, including two from 41-year-old Raul Ibanez, and getting seven shutout innings from starter Joe Saunders in an 8-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Ibanez hit his 23rd and 24th home runs of the season, and Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales also went deep as the Mariners (41-52) built an 8-0 lead on a night when Saunders was on cruise control.
Saunders (8-8) scattered five hits in seven scoreless innings while striking out five.
"The sinker was working, and I was getting a lot of ground balls tonight," Saunders said. "And I was trying to get ahead of them. With a lineup like that, if you fall behind in the count, you're in trouble."
The 32-year-old left-hander has won all three of his July starts and has a 0.87 ERA this month. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in seven of his past nine starts.
The Angels (44-47) scored three runs off the Seattle bullpen in the eighth to avoid being shut out for the first time since June 1.
Seattle had scored 30 runs during the four-game series against Boston earlier this week but had only one win to show for it.
Ibanez almost single-handedly kept the offense coming with his two home runs, putting him well on target to become the first 41-year-old in major league history to hit 30 home runs in a season. He led off the four-run fourth with a home run, then Ibanez and Morales went back-to-back in the seventh to give the Mariners an 8-0 lead.
"Right now, he's not missing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Ibanez. "I don't care what the numbers are next to his name, his bat speed hasn't changed."
Ibanez is way ahead of the pace to break Ted Williams's record of 29 home runs by a player in his 41-year-old season.
"Of course, it's humbling," Ibanez said. "The first hitting book I ever read was by Ted Williams. My dad told me that Ted Williams used to swing at the same leaf every day -- I don't know if it's true, but every day I would go out and swing at the same leaf.
" ... My career should not be mentioned in the same breath with Ted Williams - ever."
Ibanez started the four-run fourth with the mammoth home run that went 438 feet to right field. Then four of the next five Seattle hitters reached base before Williams was pulled. Reliever Garrett Richards came on and immediately threw a wild pitch that resulted in another run charged to Williams while putting the Angels in a 6-0 hole.
Williams (5-5) lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs and seven hits to run his July ERA to 19.13 in three starts this month.
"Jerome has hit a little bit of a rough patch here in the last three starts," Scioscia said, "but with some simple adjustments, hopefully he'll be right back where he needs to be."
NOTES: Seager's home run in the second inning of Thursday's game set a team record for most consecutive games with a home run. The Mariners have now hit at least one homer in 20 straight games, making them the first team since the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers -- and the first American League team since Texas homered in an major-league record 27 consecutive games --- to accomplish the feat. ... Angels RHP Jared Weaver, who is scheduled to start Saturday night's game, has not beaten the Mariners in more than two years. He went 0-3 against Seattle last season and has yet to face the Mariners this year, meaning his last victory came with a complete-game win on July 7, 2011. ... The Mariners optioned RHP Erasmo Ramirez, Thursday's starter, to Class A Everett on Friday. The move had less to do with Ramirez's rough start (seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings) and more to do with keeping him in a routine as the Mariners head into the All-Star break, manager Eric Wedge said. RHP Blake Beavan was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, and Seattle recalled LHP Bobby LaFromboise and RHP Hector Noesi from Tacoma to add fresh arms to an overworked bullpen. ... Mariners 2B Nick Franklin (knee) was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day, but Wedge said he expects to have him available before the end of the series.