Halos blank Mariners

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, July 5, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – Nobody is ready to say the balance of power is shifting in the American League West.

Power might be too strong a word to describe this division. It’s starting to look, however, like the last-place Los Angeles Angels have a little something going.

Bartolo Colon pitched like he’s back in midseason shape, holding the Mariners to four hits in a complete game as the Angels beat the M’s 4-0 Wednesday night at Safeco field.

The Angels have won five straight and nine of their past 13. The Mariners have lost four straight and five of six.

When the Mariners crawl out of bed this morning on a much-needed day off, the push to the verge of first place that existed just three days ago has left them one game out of last.

In the AL West, that’s still good enough to remain in contention, because the Mariners are just three behind first-place Oakland. Their quest resumes Friday against the best team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers.

“We’ve been playing hard, fighting and playing a long time,” first baseman Richie Sexson said. “We need this day off.”

The Mariners need it like Jamie Moyer needs run support. None of it against Colon, plus a couple of his own pitches that wound up over the fence in the fifth inning, cost Moyer.

The Angels scored all their runs in the fifth, getting four of the six hits Moyer allowed. The big blows were Robb Quinlan’s three-run home run and Orlando Cabrera’s solo homer.

Moyer entered the game with the second-lowest run support average in the league, 3.63 per game, and the Mariners gave him none in the seven innings he worked.

“I try not to get caught up in the run support issue,” Moyer said. “My responsibility is to go out and pitch and pitch well. The game is frustrating in itself, whether it’s run support or pitching or defense.

“I don’t see any of these guys coming up asking ‘Why did you hang that pitch?’ “

Moyer didn’t exactly hang anything, although the pitch to Quinlan, a changeup, was down but too far over the middle of the plate.

“I think he was sitting on a changeup and you know what? He guessed right,” Moyer said.

That turned a tight pitcher’s duel into a 3-0 Angels lead, which become 4-0 after Cabrera’s homer with two outs in the fifth. Moyer allowed one more hit the next two innings before Emiliano Fruto pitched a perfect eighth and George Sherrill a scoreless ninth.

Colon, meanwhile, pitched by far the best of his seven starts since spending two months on the disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder. He’d gone 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA, but was hardly that kind of pitcher Wednesday.

Colon didn’t throw with his usual mid-to-high 90 mph velocity, but he held the Mariners to Adrian Beltre’s one-out double in the first inning, singles by Carl Everett and Kenji Johjima in the second and a single by Raul Ibanez in the fourth.

“Velocity is not everything,” Sexson said. “You can throw as hard as you want, but if it’s straight it’s hittable. He was sinking the ball really well. We didn’t really have a ton of chances. We chinked out a couple of hits, but we never really got settled in on him.”

The Mariners’ only real offensive outburst – at least, according to first-base umpire Brian Knight – happened in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Everett had grounded out to first base and, while running to the bag, he made a comment to first-base coach Mike Goff about Phil Cuzzi, the plate umpire. Earlier in the at-bat, Cuzzi had called a strike on a pitch near Everett’s armpits.

Whatever it was that Everett told Goff, Knight overheard it and ejected him immediately. It set off Everett as though he were still in manager Mike Hargrove’s office (where he spent several minutes Tuesday verbally lashing his skipper), and he yelled at every umpire before he left the field.

Everett, ejected for the first time this season, wouldn’t talk to reporters about it after the game.

“He was directing his comment at me,” Goff said. “But the umpire at first base, I guess he felt he needed to protect the plate umpire.”

There was no protection from Colon, who mowed through the top of the Mariners’ order – Ichiro Suzuki, Beltre and Jose Lopez – on three popups in the ninth, handing the M’s their 10th shutout this season.

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