Gamel, Leake help Mariners sink Angels
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners’ pitching got off to a rough start and a near-disastrous finish on Friday night, but there were enough good moments in between to keep them in the American League wild-card race.
Ben Gamel’s three-run homer and a strong outing from Mike Leake, Seattle’s newest starter, led the Mariners to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Leake survived a rough first inning after giving up hits to the first three batters he faced, while closer Edwin Diaz wiggled out of a jam after allowing a leadoff single in the ninth.
“Good all-around game,” Leake said. “It was fun to be a part of.”
The Mariners (70-71) kept their dimming postseason hopes alive with the win. The Angels fell two games behind the Minnesota Twins in the race for the second American League wild card. Seattle remained four games behind the Twins while moving to within two games of the Angels (72-69).
“Everyone knows what’s at stake,” Gamel said. “We’re just trying to take a step back and win one game at a time.”
Leake, acquired from St. Louis in an Aug. 30 trade, overcame first inning that saw the Angels take a 2-0 lead on three consecutive hits. Leake (2-0) got through six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) and six hits while striking out five.
“Unfortunately it took a few hitters to get going,” he said.
Gamel provided the big blow with a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the second inning that gave the Mariners a lead they never relinquished. He also made a catch near the top of the wall to rob Los Angeles second baseman Brandon Phillips of a possible leadoff homer in the sixth.
“That could have changed the game,” Leake said. “It was a big-time catch at a good time.”
Seattle used five relievers to throw three scoreless innings, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs for his 32nd save of the season.
Diaz gave up a leadoff single to the Angels’ Albert Pujols but escaped without any further damage when he retired the next three batters to strand pinch-runner Eric Young Jr. at second base.
Gamel had two hits and three RBIs for the Mariners. Teammates Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger each added two hits. Haniger drove in the Mariners’ other run with an RBI single in the third inning.
Recent acquisitions Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips each had two hits for the Angels.
Los Angeles used five pitchers on a night when starter Ricky Nolasco (6-13) struggled.
Gamel hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the second inning to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead. Gamel’s eighth home run of the season came on a two-out golf swing at a pitch that was low in the strike zone.
Right fielder Mitch Haniger opened a 4-2 lead for the Mariners one inning later when his bases-loaded, two-out single drove in Robinson Cano from third base.
Nolasco didn’t get out of the fourth inning. Nolasco allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings, with the big blow coming on the Gamel homer.
“What can you do but tip your cap? He won that one,” Nolasco said.
The Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead on left fielder Justin Upton’s two-run single in the top of the first inning.
Phillips led off the game with a line single up the middle, barely missing Leake, then Trout doubled down the left-field line to put runners on second and third.
Phillips followed that with a single to right to score both players before Leake had an out.
Leake recovered to retire the next 13 batters before the Angels’ C.J. Cron singled with two outs in the fifth.
“He started us off slow and his sinker was good tonight,” Angels Mike Trout said. “We just couldn’t pick up one pitch. He was throwing everything and kept us off balance.”
NOTES: Angels DH Albert Pujols was back in the lineup after missing one game with a bruised knee. Pujols was held out of Wednesday’s game at Oakland and underwent medical tests, which determined he had a bone bruise. ... Seattle starter Mike Leake was making his second start since being acquired from St. Louis. Leake had a week between starts after having his scheduled Wednesday start moved back two days to Friday. ... The Angels’ Mike Trout went 1-for-4 with a double and had his 14-game streak with at least one walk snapped. ... Seattle 2B Robinson Cano had his 29th double of the season in Friday’s third inning. Cano has at least 30 doubles in each of his first 13 seasons, a major league record, and could extend that streak with one more double this year. ... Los Angeles made three roster moves, recalling OF Shane Robinson from Triple-A Salt Lake, placing 1B Jefry Marte (foot fracture) on the 10-day disabled list and designating RHP Brooks Pounders for assignment.