Juan Rivera hits go-ahead homer, Angels beat Mariners 7-6 after blowing 5-run lead

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rivera’s go-ahead HR helps Angels top Mariners 7-6

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Juan Rivera hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, Mike Napoli also went deep and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 Saturday night after blowing a five-run lead against the AL’s lowest-scoring team.

Brian Sweeney (1-1), working his second inning of relief, retired his first two batters in the seventh before Rivera drove a 1-0 pitch to left-center for his 11th home run.

Angels left-hander Joe Saunders allowed five runs — four earned — and 10 hits over six innings and left with a 6-5 lead before Kevin Jepsen gave up a tying homer to Josh Bard leading off the seventh.

Jepsen (2-1) pitched one inning for the win, and Brian Fuentes followed Fernando Rodney out of the bullpen with a hitless ninth for his 18th save in 22 attempts.

Ryan Rowland-Smith, who has a 1-9 record, was charged with six runs — five earned — and eight hits over 3 1-3 innings, raising his ERA to 6.18. The Australian-born left-hander’s only victory came in an interleague game against Cincinnati, when he beat the Reds 1-0 with six scoreless innings.

In 17 starts this season, Rowland-Smith has left a game leading only three times — and just once since April 17. But this time, his teammates got him off the hook after he departed with a 6-4 deficit.

The Mariners got three in the fourth on an RBI double by Jose Lopez and run-scoring singles by Justin Smoak and Josh Bard. Smoak, who came to the Mariners in a multiplayer trade that sent 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee to Texas on July 9, homered in the seventh off Saunders for his third hit, cutting the Angels’ lead to 6-5.

On Friday night, Smoak broke up Jered Weaver’s shutout bid with a two-run homer in Seattle’s 3-2 loss.

After falling behind 1-0 on an unearned run in the second inning, the Angels came back with four runs in the bottom half — two of which also were unearned due to throwing errors by Rowland-Smith and shortstop Jack Wilson.

Kevin Frandsen tied it with an RBI single, and No. 9 hitter Reggie Willits added a two-run single with the bases loaded after Rowland-Smith fielded Brandon Wood’s sacrifice bunt and pulled first baseman Smoak off the bag with his high throw. Wood scored the fourth run when Wilson threw wildly to first, trying to complete an inning-ending double play on Howie Kendrick’s grounder to second.

The Angels increased the margin to 6-1 in the third when Napoli hit his 15th homer and Frandsen followed Rivera’s double with one of his own.

Napoli was behind the plate for only the third time in his last 20 starts. He has spent most of his time playing first base since Kendry Morales suffered a season-ending broken leg in a home plate celebration following his game-ending grand slam against Seattle’s Brandon League on May 29.

NOTES: The Angels (50-44) have reached the 50-win mark with less than 50 losses in each of Mike Scioscia’s 10 seasons as manager. The last time they failed to do that was 1999 under Terry Collins, when they needed 121 games to get their 50th victory. … Ichiro Suzuki’s third-inning single was his 2,150th hit in the major leagues, tying Yogi Berra for 190th place. Only four players have had more career hits against the Angels than Suzuki’s total of 239 — Hall of Famers George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken Jr. and Paul Molitor. … Torii Hunter was 0 for 4 as the Angels’ designated hitter. Willits started in CF in place of the nine-time Gold Glove winner and threw out Wilson trying to advance from first to third on Suzuki’s single with none out in the second. … Saunders came in 8-1 with a 2.93 ERA against the Mariners, and had won his previous seven decisions against them.

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