Weaver, M’s can’t hold on

SEATTLE – Handed a five-run lead after the first inning Tuesday night, Jeff Weaver’s job for the Seattle Mariners was to hold the Los Angeles Angels down.

Weaver didn’t.

Handed new life because of that, three Angels relief pitchers did.

In a game the Mariners hope they won’t look back on and cringe — if not cry — the Angels rallied to tie the score off Weaver with runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Then they won it with solid relief and four runs in the eighth inning for a 10-6 victory at Safeco Field.

The Mariners blew Angels starter Ervin Santana from the game with five runs in the first, then managed only five hits and a run the rest of the game off relievers Dustin Moseley, Justin Speier and Scot Shields.

The Angels, meanwhile, thrashed Weaver and five Mariners relievers for 14 hits.

“They just kept coming after us,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “They got pitches to hit and they hit them.”

It’s too early to say the Mariners are losing their grasp on a playoff berth, but the loss was their fourth straight, including two in this critical series against the first-place Angels.

The M’s are four games behind the Angels in the American League West Division. They also lost a game in the AL wild-card standings, which they lead by one over the New York Yankees.

For three innings, the game was pure joy for most of the 44,395 at Safeco Field.

The five runs were the Mariners’ biggest first-inning output this season and knocked Santana from the game after he’d gotten just one out.

Ichiro Suzuki hit a leadoff triple, Jose Vidro walked and Jose Guillen doubled to score both runners. Raul Ibanez walked and Adrian Beltre lined a double down the right-field line, scoring two more, and Kenji Johjima singled to center for the fifth run.

The good times by all continued in the second inning, when Weaver silenced the Angels 1-2-3.

There were troubling signs, though.

Moseley, who relieved Santana and got Willie Bloomquist and Yuniesky Betancourt on fly outs to snuff the Mariners’ big first inning, continued his work the next 423 innings. He allowed only two baserunners through the fifth and was pulled with two outs and a runner on second base in the sixth.

By then, the score was tied 5-5.

“Jeff started the game off really well, but it seemed like he started centering some balls,” McLaren said. “The way he started off, he really had good stuff.”

He had little as the game progressed.

Weaver’s leadoff walk of Howie Kendrick in the third, plus a throwing error by Guillen after Jeff Mathis’ single, led to an unearned run, making the score 5-1.

Weaver got two outs in the fourth before Gary Matthews Jr. golfed a pitch into the right-field seats for a solo home run and a 5-2 score. One pitch later, Kendry Morales made it a two-run game when Weaver floated a pitch down the middle and he hit it out to right.

Kendrick grounded out, but Weaver immediately got into more trouble in the fifth when Mathis led off with a double to right-center.

Orlando Cabrera hit a one-out single to score Mathis, Vladimir Guerrero doubled and Maicer Izturis hit a sacrifice fly, tying the score 5-5.

The Angels broke the tie in the seventh when Mathis drew a leadoff walk against right-hander Sean Green and Guerrero doubled him home, but the Mariners scored in the bottom of the inning on Betancourt’s one-out double and Suzuki’s RBI single for a 6-6 score.

Then, like Weaver in the early innings, the Mariners’ bullpen couldn’t contain the Angels.

Brandon Morrow, who got the final out of the seventh, walked Mathews to start the eighth before Morales doubled off the left-field wall, putting the Angels ahead 7-6.

Morrow got the next two outs, but walked Reggie Willits and gave up a single to Orlando Cabrera.

McLaren brought in newly acquired right-hander Rick White, who struggled in his first outing Saturday at Texas and did again Tuesday.

Guerrero singled to drive in two runs and, after an intentional walk to Garret Anderson, Izturis singled to score the fourth run of the inning.

It ensured a second straight losing series by the Mariners, who must win today to avoid being swept for the first time since they lost all four at Texas in late July.

“We jumped up early and weren’t able to do much after that,” McLaren said. “We need a win (today), that’s for sure.”

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