By ANTHONY DION
SEATTLE — After four games, Seattle saw its dominant run against the Los Angeles Angels come to an end.
Angels’ right-hander Garrett Richards kept the Mariners hitters at bay over seven innings of 1-hit ball. He allowed two walks and struck out six as the Angels won 2-0 and improved to 4-5 on the season. The victory was the team’s first against Seattle in five games.
Richards received all the run support he needed in the third inning when Albert Pujols hit a 2-run home run into the Angels bullpen in left field. Ernest Frieri earned his first save of the season after allowing just a walk in the ninth, helping Richards improve to 2-0.
“I thought the young man for the Angels threw the ball extremely well,” Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Richards had great stuff all night. He was able to throw his breaking ball behind in the count, hats off to him.
“Listen, when you run into a buzzsaw like that where a guy is throwing 96, 97 (mph) and he’s getting an 86 to 89 (mph) slider over for strikes, it’s going to be a tough night,” added McClendon.
The shutout was the first of the season for the Mariners offense. Their lone hit came in the third inning when center-fielder Abraham Almonte hit a 1-out single. It was also the team’s best opportunity to score, but Justin Smoak went down swinging with runners on second and third to end the inning.
Despite the lack of hits, McClendon was pleased with his team’s effort in the loss.
“I was extremely proud of my team tonight, although we lost the ballgame,” McClendon said. “I thought our energy level was great, we went up there with a purpose. We had, what I thought, were very good at-bats. They weren’t very successful, but they were good at-bats where we tried to get him deep into the count. He just was a little better than we were tonight and those things happen over the course of a 162-game schedule.”
Roenis Elias took the loss for the Mariners, dropping him to 0-1. The 25-year-old Cuban pitched five innings, gave up four hits, one walk and struck out two in his second career start. He left one changeup up and it hurt him.
The third-inning homer was the 494th of Pujols’ career, moving him past Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig for 26th on the all-time list.
Los Angeles endured some hard luck earlier in the day when the team received the news that outfielder Josh Hamilton suffered a ligament tear in his left thumb when he slid head first into the first-base bag in Tuesday’s game. Hamilton will undergo surgery later in the week and will miss 6-8 weeks.
Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia was willing to look at the news with a glass-half-full attitude, saying it is better to have it happen early in the season, than later. The team has depth and they will rely on that depth in Hamilton’s absence, beginning with the call up of outfielder J.B. Shuck.
Scioscia, though, noted that the key for the Angels continues to be their pitching. When the team gets a good outing from its starter, so far this season it has won.
“As we talked about all spring, our success is going to be fueled by what we do on the mound and I think that has been evident over the first week of the season,” Scioscia said. “When we pitch well, we win.”
On Wednesday night, that trend continued.
— Mariners’ starter James Paxton was placed on the 15-day disabled list, Wednesday, after an MRI test confirmed that he suffered a strained lat muscle in Tuesday night’s start. Newly acquired starter, Chris Young, will make Paxton’s scheduled start on Sunday. Paxton is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts this year. The Mariners also recalled left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge from AAA Tacoma to fill the 25-man roster spot.
— Hisashi Iwakuma threw 34 pitches off a mound prior to Wednesday’s game as he continues to work his way back from a hand injury he suffered early in spring training. Iwakuma threw mostly fastballs in the session. He will throw again off a mound, Saturday, progressing to more off-speed pitches.
— Seattle’s top pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker, pitched in a minor-league rehab outing in AA Jackson, Wednesday night. Walker pitched 5 scoreless innings for the Generals, throwing 84 pitches. He struck out 10, walked one and yielded three hits to the Mississippi Braves.