(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have had plenty of difficulty producing runs as of late, and recent history says the team could be in for a tough time again in tonight's matchup with Jason Vargas and the Seattle Mariners from Safeco Field.
After mustering a mere one run in being swept in three games at home by lowly Baltimore over the weekend, the Angels had a temporary breakout in Monday's 5-3 besting of the Mariners. That mild offensive surge was short-lived, however, as Seattle evened this three-game series with a 3-1 triumph last night behind strong pitching and some clutch late hitting.
The game featured a terrific pitcher's duel between Mariners ace Felix Hernandez and Anaheim's Dan Haren, with neither hurler giving up a run over the first seven innings. The Angels finally broke through in the top of the eighth to grab a 1-0 lead, but Seattle put up a three-spot in its half of the frame to prevail.
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out against Kevin Jepsen (2-4), who took over for Haren to try to protect the one-run edge, before Michael Saunders delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the score. Adam Moore followed with a go-ahead single before Josh Wilson greeted reliever Francisco Rodriguez with a base hit that extended the margin to 3-1.
"We did our job a little later than we would've liked, but a win's a win," said Saunders afterward.
Brandon League (1-1) was credited with the win despite allowing Anaheim's only run in the top of the eighth, when Alberto Callaspo and Howie Kendrick smacked back-to-back doubles to break the scoreless deadlock.
Hernandez yielded just three hits and struck out eight in his seven-inning stint, with Haren scattering eight hits and also fanning eight hitters before leaving after seven frames.
"We had [Hernandez] on the ropes a couple times and couldn't get some early runs, which definitely could've made a difference in that game," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He made some pitches to get out of jams and got some double play balls."
The Angels' bats have also been silenced pretty well in the team's previous encounters with Vargas this season. The Seattle lefty has posted a 1.71 earned run average in three 2010 starts against the Halos, earning a win in one and a no-decision in the two others.
Vargas hasn't been on top of his game lately, however. After winning three straight starts to begin the month of August, the California native was tagged for seven runs in 6 1/3 innings in a road loss to the New York Yankees on August 21. He struggled again in Friday's home assignment against Minnesota, with the Twins putting up five runs (four earned) in Vargas' six innings of work to pin a second straight defeat on the hurler.
The 27-year-old has still had more good than bad starts at Safeco Field this year, as he brings an impressive 7-3 mark with a 2.48 ERA in 14 home outings into tonight's tilt.
Rookie Trevor Bell gets the call for Anaheim for this evening's rubber match and comes in off an encouraging showing on Friday, albeit in a losing cause. The right-hander held Baltimore to two runs and six hits over a career-best seven innings, but was victimized by his team's sputtering offense in a 3-1 setback.
Bell has pitched primarily out of the bullpen this season and has amassed a 1-4 record with a 5.07 ERA in 23 total appearances. In his five games as a starter, the 23-year-old is 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA.
This will be Bell's sixth career meeting with Seattle, with the first five all coming in relief. He's allowed just one run and four hits while striking out seven Mariners over a combined 7 1/3 innings.
The Angels had taken nine of their last 10 bouts with the Mariners prior to last night's result and are 11-4 against Seattle this season. Anaheim has prevailed in five of the seven games played in Safeco Field between the teams in 2010.