The Los Angeles Angels might not have made any headway in the wild-card chase Tuesday, but they did tie a major league record by striking out 20 Seattle Mariners in a 5-4 victory.
The 20 strikeouts match the major league record for a nine-inning game, also accomplished by the Chicago Cubs on May 6, 1998, the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 18, 1996, and the Red Sox again on April 29, 1986.
Those games only involved one pitcher (Kerry Wood for the Cubs, Roger Clemens twice for the Red Sox), while the Angels used five pitchers.
Zack Greinke did most of the work in the first five innings. He struck out 13 of the 24 batters he faced, becoming the first pitcher since 1920 to strike out 13 in a start that lasted five innings or less.
With seven hits, two walks and a run mixed in, Greinke's pitch count was at 110 after five innings. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been sensitive to pushing Greinke's pitch count too far (at the expense of two ninth-inning losses in Greinke's previous starts), so he pulled the right-hander for the start of the sixth inning.
"His pitch count was extraordinarily high for five innings, but he was pitching well," Scioscia said. "It was kind of strange.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a guy throw that many pitches in five innings and be that successful. Usually, if you throw that many pitches in five innings, it's because you're struggling. He struck out 13 and only allowed one run."
Greinke said he certainly wasn't going for strikeouts -- at least not all the time.
"I was just trying to get ahead of guys. That was the plan," Greinke said. "I got a lot of strikeouts early, and then later on I had to go for the strikeout more because I had runners in scoring position in a close game."
Rookie Garrett Richards struck out the side in the sixth. Kevin Jepsen added two more in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and then Ernesto Frieri struck out Kyle Seager and John Jaso for the final two outs of the game to tie the record.
Scott Downs, who began the seventh inning for the Angels and allowed three runs, didn't strike out a batter.