Angels beat Mariners, 4-2

SEATTLE After beating Detroit 3-2 last week with his third career complete game, Santana nearly bested himself against Seattle, the popular pick before the season to challenge the Angels in the AL West.

That challenge from the Mariners has never materialized. After Jeremy Reed grounded out with the final out, the Angels moved 13½ games ahead of the hapless, last-place Mariners in the AL West standings.

The Angels offense again failed to score more than four runs for the 13th straight game. But they are now 9-4 during the stretch, thanks to tremendous pitching. The Angels have held their opponents to two earned runs or less in 11 of their last 12 victories.

The offense the Angels did get came from an unlikely source: the bottom of their batting order. Jeff Mathis hit his fourth homer of the season, part of the six hits produced by the bottom three in the Angels' batting order, all six coming off Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn.

Casey Kotchman ripped three singles, Robb Quinlan had a pair of base hits and an RBI and the trio scored three of the Angels' four runs.

That was more than enough for Santana (8-2), who didn't face a three-ball count on a batter until two outs in the seventh inning. He gave up a single to Richie Sexson leading off the fifth, then didn't allow a hit until Jose Lopez hit a solo homer into the Angels bullpen with two outs in the eighth.

Santana gave up two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings.

The homer ended the night for Santana, who struck out three and threw 109 pitches. Jose Arredondo got the final out of the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez worked the ninth for his league-leading 22nd save in 23 chances.

Washburn (2-7) lost his third straight decision and has just one win since the second week of the season. He cruised through the first two innings, before Kotchman's single and Mathis' homer over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field in the third.

The Angels added two more in the fourth. Gary Matthews Jr., Kotchman and Quinlan started the inning with three straight singles, the last scoring Matthews. Maicer Izturis later beat out a potential inning-ending double play, allowing Kotchman to score from third.

Seattle's scored a run in the third, courtesy of a two-out, extra-base hit rally by Ichiro Suzuki and Lopez. With Torii Hunter shaded into left-center, Suzuki lined a triple that rolled to the fence in center. Lopez then doubled past Quinlan's diving attempt at third base.

Hunter did have a defensive gem in the seventh, making a running backhanded catch of Reed's drive near the warning track.

Seattle manager John McLaren returned Sexson to the lineup after he sat the previous five games. McLaren said the time off was to let Sexson work on some issues with his swing, hoping to improve on his .200 average entering the game.

Sexson went 1-for-2 with a walk.

Notes: Angels' OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero was held out of the lineup with a sore right knee after a hard slide into third during Sunday's game against Detroit. ... Seattle RHP Miguel Batista experienced some tightness in his groin during Sunday's start against Detroit, but said he shouldn't have any problems making his next start.


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