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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Seattle Mariners’ search for their first win following the All-Star break will have to resume in a few days and in a different city.
Their best reliever — which isn’t necessarily a lofty distinction given the bullpen’s struggles this season — entered a tie game to get one out in the eighth inning Sunday and give the Mariners a chance to win in the ninth or later.
Instead, left-hander Roenis Elias served up a line-drive three-run homer to left-handed hitting rookie Matt Thaiss, who came into the game batting a .071 with no homers and one RBI.
After giving away three runs on the bases earlier in the game, there was no coming back in the ninth. Angels closer Hansel Robles secured the 6-3 win and sweep over Seattle.
The Mariners, who have lost four straight, limped out of Anaheim having lost seven of their past eight games to fall to 39-58.
They have Monday off, then open a two-game series in Oakland vs. an A’s team that has won four in a row and is 8-2 in its past 10 games.
Eventually, Seattle will snap the losing streak, but the level of play in all aspects must get better.
“Not a good series, but they (the Angels) are playing very well,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “They’re very dangerous right now at the plate.”
Right-hander Anthony Bass took the loss. He started the eighth inning and issued a one-out walk to Kole Calhoun and allowed a two-out single that put runners on the corners for Thaiss.
With Mike Trout removed from the game because of right calf tightness, the Angels had only catcher Kevan Smith on the bench. So the light-hitting Thaiss, who snapped an 0-for-13 stretch earlier in the game, had to bat. Servais went to his interim closer and most effective reliever. After a first-pitch strike, Elias fell behind 2-1 and piped a 94 mph fastball that Thaiss hammered.
“It’s truly something I’ll never forget,” Thaiss said after his first big-league homer, which came in his fifth major-league game. “It’s been unbelievable, how welcoming this clubhouse is. The teammates that are in there and how they’ve all come together through this week, everyone just picks each other up, no matter who it is. It’s really special to see.”
Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi and the Mariners’ beat-up bullpen couldn’t take advantage of three runs of support, which isn’t a lot, but better than the first two games of the series.
Of course it could have been more if not for the Mariners running the bases with complete disregard for sense and purpose.
In a fourth inning, with runners on second and third with one out, Austin Nola was thrown out at home on a ground ball to shortstop with the drawn in infield on the contact play. Moments later Mallex Smith was picked off first base. Dylan Moore tried to score from third while Smith was hung up in a run down and was thrown out at home.
And then in seventh inning of a 3-3 game, Smith tripled with one out to give Seattle a prime chance to take the lead. Instead he got caught off third on a comebacker to the pitcher and was thrown out at home after a brief run down.
With inconsistent command from his first pitch of the game, Kikuchi struggled to get ahead and to put hitters away. It took him 47 pitches to get through the first two innings.
“It was a really hot day out there, but I felt like I was able to do what I wanted to do,” Kikuchi said through a translator. “They hit me pretty well the last two starts, so I tried to go in with a different approach. They have a really good lineup, but today I didn’t really get hit (hard).”
Kikuchi allowed just two hits in the game, but he walked four. With a 2-0 lead, Kikuchi allowed his first hit to start the second inning when Kole Calhoun launched a curveball over the wall in right field to cut Seattle’s lead in half.
Kikuchi worked 1-2-3 frames in the third and fourth. He started the fifth with a 3-1 lead and never recorded an out. He walked Dustin Garneau to start the inning and then allowed a single to Thaiss, the No. 9 hitter. With the top of the Angels order cycling through for the third time, Servais went to right-hander Matt Carasiti to stop the rally. Instead Carasiti made it worse by walking the first two batters he faced to force in a run. The Angels tied the game on Andrelton Simmons’ sacrifice fly to left field. Both runs were charged to Kikuchi.
Carasiti did limit further damage by retiring the next two batters to keep the game tied 3-3.
Seattle grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Angels starter Jose Suarez on two-out singles from Domingo Santana, Tim Beckham and Tom Murphy.
Austin Nola pushed the lead to 2-0 to start the second by belting his second homer of the season.
After briefly losing their two-run cushion, the Mariners got it right back when Santana led off the third with a solo homer to deep right-center. It was 19th home run of the season.