SEATTLE — Luis Valbuena’s two-run homer in the seventh inning pulled Los Angeles even, Albert Pujols added a two-run double in the eighth and the Angels rallied for a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
For the third straight game, the Mariners saw their bullpen problems fester while trying to hold a lead. Valbuena’s homer came off reliever Casey Lawrence and after the Mariners got six surprisingly strong innings out of starter Erasmo Ramirez.
Tony Zych (5-3) ran into even more trouble in the eighth. Zych walked the first two batters before giving up Pujols’ double to the gap. Kole Calhoun singled and Andrelton Simmons’ sacrifice fly scored Pujols for a three-run lead. Seattle’s bullpen has allowed 13 runs in the first three games of the series.
Los Angeles has won five straight and has moved into the second wild card spot in the American League.
The Mariners got a strong start from Ramirez after he underperformed in his first two starts since being acquired from Tampa Bay. Ramirez allowed three hits and one unearned run. But all the good from Ramirez’s start was quickly undone by the bullpen. Lawrence gave up a one-out single to C.J. Cron and Valbuena’s line-drive homer to right field to tie the game at 3-all, followed by Zych’s issues in the eighth.
While Seattle’s bullpen has struggled, the Angels’ relievers have been solid. Starter JC Ramirez was done after five innings following Kyle Seager’s 18th home run that gave Seattle a 3-1 lead. Jesse Chavez allowed four hits in 1 2/3 innings but was not scored on, helped by two Mariners getting caught stealing and a perfect relay to get Yonder Alonso trying to score from first on Robinson Cano’s double in the seventh. Cano was stranded at third as Keynan Middleton (4-0) got Nelson Cruz to ground out to end the inning.
Blake Parker worked the eighth allowing one single and Cam Bedrosian pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Seattle hitting coach Edgar Martinez got the night off from his regular job as the Mariners retired his No. 11 during an emotional pregame ceremony. It’s the second number retired by the club, joining the No. 24 of Ken Griffey Jr. The Mariners made the decision to honor Martinez after he jumped to nearly 59 percent of the vote in baseball Hall of Fame voting this year, in the hope that Martinez gains the needed 75 percent in his final two years of eligibility.
Angels: RHP Andrew Bailey was reinstated from the disabled list after being out since April due to shoulder troubles. Manager Mike Scioscia said Bailey will be used in some low-leverage situations to start with. The Angels optioned outfielder Cesar Puello to clear a roster spot.
Mariners: Seattle’s bullpen shuffle continued with the club selecting RHP Christian Bergman from Triple-A Tacoma and optioning RHP Andrew Moore to help in the bullpen. Moore threw 1 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on Friday night. Bergman was primarily a starter with the Mariners earlier this season going 4-4 with a 5.44 ERA in nine games, eight starts.
Angels: Parker Bridwell (6-1) goes for his fifth straight victory. Bridwell allowed one run over seven innings in his last start against Baltimore.
Mariners: Ariel Miranda (7-5) looks to stop his recent slide. Miranda is winless in his last six starts, his last victory coming on June 30.