SEATTLE (AP) - Brandon League still has his job as Seattle's closer. He's shown very little of late to back that he deserves the job.
League blew his third save in his last five chances giving up three runs in the ninth inning and committing a costly error as the Mariners fell to the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 on Friday night.
Staked to a 4-3 lead entering the ninth, League gave up two singles, walked a batter on a 3-2 pitch and committed a throwing error that allowed the tying run to score. It was yet another late meltdown that had the home fans lustfully booing League as he came off the mound following the awful effort.
``We evaluate every day. We look at everything on its own merit, whether it's one game tonight or the whole season,' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ``With (League) we know what he is capable of doing, but he has to come in, pound the zone, pitch down, let the sinker move and make them pound the ball in the ground.'
But everything that League threw in the ninth inning on Friday was up and the Angels took full advantage.
Howie Kendrick provided the decisive blow with a pinch-hit, two-run single that gave Los Angeles the lead. Albert Pujols provided all of the Angels' offense before the ninth inning with a three-run homer in the sixth off Seattle starter Blake Beavan, and the Angels won their season-best fourth straight game.
``Hopefully a couple of months from now we can point back to the things we did right and we can point back on a night like tonight,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``It's a good comeback win.'
Mark Trumbo opened the ninth with a single on the first pitch of the inning from League. Considering League's recent struggles, giving up a first-pitch hit was an ominous sign. After Trumbo's single he was replaced by pinch-runner Peter Bourjos, and League was too fine facing Alberto Callaspo and walked him on a 3-2 pitch.
Erick Aybar followed with a bunt, but it came right back to League. With catcher Jesus Montero yelling ``third' League threw to try and get the lead runner, but his throw was wide of Alex Liddi and went bouncing down the left-field line allowing Bourjos to score the tying run and put runners and second and third with no outs. Kole Calhoun was intentionally walked to load the bases and Kendrick laced a liner past League and into center field for the winning runs.
It was League's third blown save since April 30 and all four of League's losses this season are blown saves.
``The (pitches) are up (and) I'm not getting ground balls. That's the bottom line,' League said.
The meltdown by League ruined a strong start from Beavan, who made just one mistake in seven innings. Beavan had allowed one baserunner to reach second before he ran into trouble in the sixth. John Hester led off with a single and Beavan missed on a 3-2 pitch to Maicer Izturis. He quickly got ahead of Pujols 0-2, but instead of throwing out of the strike zone, Beavan left a fastball up and on the outer half of the plate. Pujols' response was a 410-foot line drive into the seats in center field. It was his third homer in four games and followed his two-run shot in the first inning in Thursday's series opener.
``Not a very smart pitch to that guy with guys on base,' Beavan said. ``The two times before with a slider. I think he was hoping I'd throw a fastball right there and I did him a favor by throwing one. Even though it wasn't a strike it was too close to his damage zone.'
Scott Downs pitched the ninth to close out the comeback and earn his fourth save. Downs got help from Calhoun, who made a leaping catch on Brendan Ryan's liner to open the ninth inning. Downs then got a groundout from Michael Saunders and fly out by Liddi to close out the win. It was just the sixth save of the season for the Angels.
Jason Isringhausen (1-0) got the win pitching one inning of relief for the Angels.
Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer, had an RBI single and drove in all four runs for Seattle, but the Mariners missed numerous chances to capitalize on the wildness of Angels starter Ervin Santana early in the game. Santana walked seven, one off his career high.
Notes: Santana had a 2.25 ERA and a 2-2 record in his previous five starts after beginning the year 0-4. ... Hall of Fame pitcher and one-time Seattle starter Gaylord Perry threw out the first pitch. Perry won his 300th career game with Seattle in 1982. ... Seattle 2B Dustin Ackley was given the game off on the night his bobblehead was being given out as a pregame collectable for fans. ``I'm surprised I haven't gotten a phone call,' Wedge jokingly said before the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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