Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) – Juan Rivera went 3-for-4 and hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, lifting the Angels to a 7-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Mike Napoli went 2-for-4 with a home run for the Angels, who had also won the first two contests of this four-game series. Kevin Frandsen and Reggie Willits each added two hits and two RBI in the victory.
“We’re swinging the bats much better, but we need contributions from a lot of guys,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “We were able to pressure them early in the game, and Juan has a track record of swinging the bat well as the season goes on.”
The Angels have beaten the Mariners eight consecutive times and improved to 10-2 against them this season.
Justin Smoak went 3-for-4 with a double and homer, while Jose Lopez doubled twice for Seattle, which has dropped four in a row and fell to 2-12 in July.
Neither starter received a decision. Los Angeles’ Joe Saunders allowed five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in six innings, while Seattle’s Ryan Rowland- Smith last just 3 1/3 frames, in which he gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits and a walk.
The bulk of the scoring occurred over the opening innings, starting in the second. Smoak doubled with two outs, moved to third on a single by Ryan Langerhans and crossed the plate on Howie Kendrick’s fielding error.
However, the Angels plated four runs in the bottom half to take control. Napoli, Rivera and Frandsen began the inning with singles to get a run across, and Brandon Wood reached base on his sacrifice bunt attempt, thanks to Rowland-Smith’s throwing error. Willits followed with a two-run single, and Wood later scored on a throwing error by Jack Wilson to make it a 4-1 game.
Napoli hit a one-out solo shot in the third, and Rivera and Frandsen followed with back-to-back doubles to make it a 6-1 contest.
But the Mariners came back in the next frame, which Franklin Gutierrez and Lopez opened with doubles to score a run. A Milton Bradley single put runners on the corners, and Smoak’s base hit to left plated another run. Josh Bard later hit an RBI single to bring Seattle within 6-4, and Smoak’s solo homer in the sixth had the Mariners within one.
The Angels still held the slim lead as Saunders finished the inning, but Kevin Jepsen (2-1) gave it up in the seventh, when he allowed a leadoff homer to Bard.
However, Rivera bailed him and Los Angeles out in the home half, belting a 1-0 slider from Brian Sweeney (1-1) to left-center for his 11th homer of the season.
Fernando Rodney worked around a one-out double from Lopez to throw a scoreless eighth. Brian Fuentes walked Langerhans to start the ninth, but got Bard to ground into a double play before striking out Wilson to end the game.
“We did a nice job of battling back,” said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. “Rowland-Smith struggled early. We were behind too much. We swung the bats well. Smoak did a nice job, but the pitch to Rivera changed the game.”
Fuentes recorded his 18th save…Smoak homered for the second consecutive game…Rivera hit his first homer since June 12. He also extended his hitting streak to six games.