SEATTLE (AP) - Doug Fister's first inning was so awful that what took place over the next six innings by the Seattle Mariners starter was equally head scratching.
Fister was punched around for four runs, five hits and 42 pitches, making the first inning look like extended batting practice for the Los Angeles Angels on his way to a 4-0 loss that dropped Seattle back to .500 (34-34) for the first time since May 29.
But after getting shelled to start, Fister proceeded to stymie the Angels for the next six innings, retiring 18 of the final 20 batters he faced. It wasn't enough on a night Seattle's offense was being equally silenced by Angels starter Jered Weaver, but it was an impressive turnaround nonetheless.
``Anytime you get punched in the gut early, you really have to regroup and he did,' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ``He gave his teammates a chance to come back. We didn't pick him up, damn sure wish we would have.'
There wasn't much opportunity to reward Fister for his effort with Weaver near the top of his game. Weaver threw a five-hitter for his second shutout of the season and finally got some run support on the road thanks to a four-run first inning as the Angels won consecutive games for the first time since late May.
Weaver (8-4) gave up four singles and Ichiro Suzuki's ninth-inning double in his third complete game of the season. He struck out six and walked only one, matching his career high with 128 pitches.
``Weaver kind of had us all over the place tonight. ... That's what he does,' Wedge said. ``When you are dragged into his game like that, it's going to be a long night. That's what happened.'
But take away the first inning and Fister matched Weaver, despite dropping his third straight start. Fister finished off seven innings - his fourth straight start going at least that long - and allowed only singles to Hank Conger and Andrew Romine in the fourth inning. He needed just 66 pitches over his final six innings on the mound, striking out five.
``I don't know really what clicked. Just a matter of fighting through it and saying, 'I'm going to make them hit it on the ground and use my defense,'' Fister said.
Los Angeles had scored more than three runs in two of its previous 12 games before Tuesday's first inning, although that should have featured one less run. Peter Bourjos' two-out double down the left-field line was ruled fair by third-base umpire Chad Fairchild, but on replay was shown to be clearly foul. That hit capped a miserable inning for Fister, who needed 42 pitches just to escape the first and wasn't helped by sloppiness from Seattle's defense.
It started immediately with Erick Aybar's leadoff double and Torii Hunter's RBI single. Mariners third baseman Chone Figgins cut Mike Carp's throw from left field although it appeared Seattle would have a play at the plate on Aybar. Hunter was caught too far off first, but managed to get back to the bag after the Mariners botched the rundown.
Vernon Wells later reached when Adam Kennedy's throw for a potential double play pulled Justin Smoak at first. Howie Kendrick and Russell Branyan then followed with sharp RBI singles before Bourjos' borderline double.
``It was a little rough patch of me fighting myself, my delivery, my location and they put a few runs on the board for it,' Fister said.
There were few bright spots otherwise for Seattle, except for Carp and Suzuki. Carp had two of Seattle's five hits off Weaver, while Suzuki collected a pair as well, including a double lined to deep center in the ninth. It was the fourth straight multihit game for Suzuki after getting a day off last Friday in Detroit. Suzuki also made a pair of fine running catches in right field.
Notes: Weaver won his first road start since April 20 at Texas. ... In his last seven starts, Fister has not allowed more than four earned runs, but has just one victory during that stretch. ... Seattle announced the signing of 21 of its draft picks Tuesday, including seven taken in the first 20 rounds. The highest pick to sign was 10th-round selection IF Dan Paolini out of Siena.
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The Associated Press News Service
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