SEATTLE -- Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez has had his share of bad luck against the Los Angeles Angels through the years, but this time he had Kendrys Morales on his side.
Morales dealt the big blow to his former team on Saturday night with a pinch-RBI single in the seventh inning to help give the Mariners a 3-2 win over Los Angeles. It also gave Hernandez (3-2) his first win over the Angels since September 2011 after the Mariners ace had gone 0-3 in five games against Los Angeles last season.
Hernandez gave up two runs in the second inning on a leadoff homer from Chris Iannetta and a Mike Trout sacrifice fly but was nearly untouchable after that. He retired the final 14 batters he faced before Tom Wilhelmsen came on in the ninth to pick up his seventh save of the season.
Hernandez allowed five hits and one earned run in eight innings, throwing 95 pitches while striking out seven.
It looked like another tough-luck performance from Hernandez until the Mariners tied the score on Jesus Montero's two-run homer in the sixth and pulled ahead on the one-out single from Morales. The former Angel lined a pitch from reliever Michael Roth to left field, bringing in Kyle Seager from second base for the eventual winner.
The Mariners (10-16) couldn't break through on Angels starter Joe Blanton until the sixth, when Montero hit a two-run homer off him to tie the score 2-2.
Through the first five innings, Seattle stranded eight runners while going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. That gave the Mariners 21 runners left on base and an .053 batting average (1 for 19) with runners in scoring position during a 14-inning stretch of Friday's and Saturday's games.
The biggest culprit has been first baseman Justin Smoak, who grounded into an inning-ending out with the bases loaded in the fifth on Saturday and struck out with runners on first and second in the seventh. Smoak has stranded 15 runners on base in the past two games, when he has gone 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
Los Angeles (9-14) had its own struggles, particularly from its top three hitters. Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton combined to go 2 for 11, giving them a .242 batting average for the series.
The win gives Hernandez a career record of 7-12 against the Angels.
The Angels jumprf out to a 2-0 lead in the third. Iannetta hit Hernandez's first pitch of the inning over the fence in left-center field, then the Angels took advantage of a throwing error on catcher Jesus Montero to add a run on a sacrifice fly.
Hernandez looked to be in trouble again in the fourth but bailed himself out with a nifty defensive play. After giving up a walk and a hit to put runners on the corners with one out, Hernandez fielded a Brendan Harris squeeze bunt and made a scoop-throw with his glove, nailing baserunner Mark Trumbo at the plate to keep the Mariners within 2-0.
Seattle had trouble providing much support for Hernandez, who hadn't beaten the Angels since 2011 and owned a career record of 6-12 against Los Angeles heading into Saturday's game.
One day after leaving 13 runners on base in a 6-3 loss to the Angels, the Mariners seemed to be picking up right where they had left off by stranding eight in the first five innings.
Seattle's first two batters reached base in the first, only to get stranded. Raul Ibanez then led off the bottom of the second with a single but never made it to second base. Michael Morse initially appeared to tie the score at 2 when he blasted a Joe Blanton pitch down the right-field line in the third, but the ball sailed just wide of the foul pole before Morse stranded a runner at second by flying out to center.
Then the Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, only to come up empty again after a Morse strikeout and Smoak's groundout to first.
NOTES: Former Mariner Jason Vargas will be making his first start against Seattle on Sunday. The left-handed pitcher spent four seasons with the Mariners before being traded for Kendrys Morales in December. ... Before Saturday's game, Mariners third base coach Jeff Datz informed the team that he has been diagnosed with cancer. Datz, who was in his usual role for Saturday's game, released a statement to the media that did not disclose any details of the cancer. The statement did say that Datz was fortunate the cancer was caught in its early stages but that could he miss a few games down the road. Manager Eric Wedge said, "He's going to beat this." ... The Angels' Monday starter is currently listed as TBA, but all indications are that Tommy Hanson will make his first start since April 19. Hanson is currently on the bereavement list.