|L.A. Angels (65-69) «||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||4||5||2|
SEATTLE -- Hideki Matsui knew immediately when he turned on Jason Vargas' belt-high fastball that he didn't quite get all of it.
So Matsui watched, closely, as he trotted down toward first base, waiting to see if Ichiro Suzuki was going to climb the fence and rob his countryman.
"It might have been front page," Matsui said about the possible reaction in Japan.
Slumping against lefties most of the season -- hitting just .203 entering the game -- Matsui hit his 18th homer of the season to give the Angels the lead. Matsui now has three career hits off Vargas and all three are homers.
"He's the type of pitcher that pitches well to both sides of the plate. The pitches I've hit against him were basically mistake pitches that really caught the big part of the plate," Matsui said through an interpreter. "I was just able to put a good swing on those pitches."
After watching Seattle center fielder Franklin Gutierrez rob Howie Kendrick of a homer an inning earlier, the entire Angels dugout watched with a little trepidation as Suzuki climbed the right-field fence.
"You never know. They've got an athletic outfield and Ichiro has done it before," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was close."
Matsui's homer helped make a winner out of Trevor Bell, who picked up his first win of 2010 as a starter. Bell (2-4) threw six innings and gave up nine hits but just two runs against the Mariners punchless offense.
Hard-throwing righty Jordan Walden took over in the seventh and hit 100 mph several times on the stadium radar gun, giving up just Suzuki's 50th infield single of the season. Kevin Jepsen rebounded from his blown save loss a night earlier by striking out a pair in the eighth and Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 11 chances.
Matsui had walked and grounded out in his previous two at-bats against Vargas.
Vargas' 0-1 fastball was waist high and Matsui didn't miss. He previously homered off Vargas in July 2009 in New York while still playing for the Yankees and earlier this season in Seattle.
Vargas (9-8) gave up just four hits in seven innings, pitching at least six innings for the ninth time in his last 11 starts. He struck out four and walked two.
"I'm frustrated. I feel like I'm smarter than that. He is definitely a guy that can change the game," Vargas said. "I was trying to throw it in to have him swing at it. That is a spot we have pitched him earlier this year and he hasn't got to it. In a big situation he did."
Alberto Callaspo added a solo homer with two outs in the eighth off reliever Sean White, curling it just inside the right-field foul pole.
Gutierrez drove in the Mariners' first run with an RBI single in the third. His double-play grounder scored another in the fifth for a 2-1 lead.
But it was his catch in the sixth that grabbed everyone's attention. With two outs, Kendrick hit a drive about 400 feet. Gutierrez never slowed his stride, sprinting all the way to the warning track and then timing his jump to snag the drive just above the yellow line at the top of the wall. Vargas tipped his cap, while many of the sparse crowd at Safeco Field gave Gutierrez a standing ovation.
Bell became a starter for the Angels in late July, while still mixing in appearances out of the bullpen. Wednesday was his sixth start and backed up the promise the Angels saw in his last start when Bell went seven innings and gave up just two runs in a loss to Baltimore.
Bell struck out six and walked none in his seven innings. More important, he escaped jams with runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings. Seattle left eight on base.
"They definitely had some opportunities and he made some pitches to get out," Scioscia said. "He showed us a lot out there. He bent a little bit but didn't break."Notes
The Angels are now 12-4 against Seattle this season and went 7-2 at Safeco Field. ... Gutierrez made another fine running catch at the wall in the ninth inning on Mike Napoli's drive. ... Seattle has extended its minor league agreements with Double-A West Tenn and Pulaski in the rookie Appalachian League.
|Players of the Game|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Reggie Willits, LF||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.285|
|Alberto Callaspo, 3B||4||1||1||1||0||0||1||.288|
|Howard Kendrick, 2B||4||0||0||1||0||1||0||.278|
|Torii Hunter, RF||4||0||1||0||0||3||0||.291|
|Mike Napoli, C||3||1||1||0||1||1||0||.248|
|Juan Rivera, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.247|
|Hideki Matsui, DH||2||1||1||2||1||0||0||.262|
|Brandon Wood, SS||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.162|
|Peter Bourjos, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.195|
|2B - Reggie Willits (6, Vargas), Torii Hunter (31, Vargas), Mike Napoli (21, Vargas)|
|HR - Alberto Callaspo (10, S. White), Hideki Matsui (18, Vargas)|
|RBI - Alberto Callaspo (54), Howard Kendrick (65), Hideki Matsui 2 (73)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alberto Callaspo (22), Hideki Matsui 2 (31)|
|Team LOB - 2|
|DP - Wood-Kendrick-J. Rivera|
|E - Mike Napoli (11, Throwing), Juan Rivera (6, Misplayed grounder)|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Trevor Bell (W,2-4)||6||9||2||2||0||6||0||4.85|
|Jordan Walden (H,1)||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||2.25|
|Kevin Jepsen (H,21)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||4.93|
|Fernando Rodney (S,8)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||3.79|
|Pitches-Strikes - Trevor Bell 93-61, Jordan Walden 21-15, Kevin Jepsen 17-11, Fernando Rodney 20-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Trevor Bell 5-6, Kevin Jepsen 1-0, Fernando Rodney 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Trevor Bell 26, Jordan Walden 4, Kevin Jepsen 3, Fernando Rodney 4|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||5||0||2||0||0||1||1||.310|
|Chone Figgins, 2B||3||1||2||0||0||1||1||.247|
|Franklin Gutierrez, CF||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.251|
|Russell Branyan, DH||4||0||0||0||0||4||3||.235|
|Jose Lopez, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.241|
|Casey Kotchman, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.224|
|Michael Saunders, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.221|
|Adam Moore, C||4||0||1||0||0||2||3||.200|
|Josh Wilson, SS||3||1||1||0||0||1||1||.249|
|a- Ryan Langerhans, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.198|
|a-struck out for Wilson in the 9th|
|2B - Franklin Gutierrez (20, Bell), Casey Kotchman (19, Bell), Adam Moore (4, Bell)|
|SH - Chone Figgins (12)|
|RBI - Franklin Gutierrez (51)|
|SB - Chone Figgins (34, 2nd base off Bell/Napoli), Michael Saunders (4, 3rd base off Bell/Napoli)|
|CS - Franklin Gutierrez (3, 2nd base by Bell/Napoli)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Figgins|
|Jason Vargas (L,9-8)||7||4||3||3||2||4||1||3.55|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jason Vargas 106-74, Sean White 14-10, Brian Sweeney 10-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Vargas 5-11, Sean White 1-0, Brian Sweeney 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jason Vargas 26, Sean White 4, Brian Sweeney 3|
|Attendance - 17515|
|Game Time - 2:39|
|Temperature - 67|
|Umpires - Home - Jerry Meals, First Base - Scott Barry, Second Base - D.J. Reyburn, Third Base - Dale Scott|