Mariners strike out 20 times in 5-4 loss to Angels

Associated Press Published: September 26, 2012

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Whiff!

The Seattle Mariners had plenty of baserunners against Zack Greinke and four Los Angeles Angels relievers, who combined for 20 strikeouts to tie a major league record for a nine-inning game.

Leadoff batter Dustin Ackley struck out all three times up against Greinke, who had a season-high 13 Ks in just five innings en route to a 5-4 victory over the Mariners on Tuesday night. Everyone in Seattle's starting lineup fanned at least once, including Justin Smoak, who homered from both sides of the plate to raise his season total to 18.

"It was an odd game," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "You make a very good starting pitcher throw 110 pitches in five innings — a lot of that is because of his strikeouts — but we had some long ABs and we hit the ball decent. Smoak had a great night for us again, which was great to see. That's huge for him and huge for us."

Smoak got the Mariners on the board in the fourth with a first-pitch homer to right field, trimming the Angels' lead to 2-1 after a fielding error by third baseman Kyle Seager on a routine grounder by Mike Trout led to a pair of unearned runs in the first against Erasmo Ramirez (1-3).

Smoak's second homer was a two-run shot in the seventh off lefty Scott Downs, cutting the margin to 5-4 after Franklin Gutierrez hit an RBI double that ended a 1-for-47 stretch by the Mariners' offense with runners in scoring position. Smoak is batting .212 with 48 RBIs in 124 games. But in 18 games this month, he is hitting .362 with four homers and eight RBIs.

"It definitely hasn't been a good year for me," Smoak said. "There's a lot of stuff I've been working on through the whole year, (more) left-handed than right-handed, and I'm at a place now where I feel like I've found something that's working more times than not."

Ramirez was charged with five runs — three earned — and seven hits over six innings in his seventh major league start. Torii Hunter hit a two-run homer against him in the fifth, and Erick Aybar added a solo shot in the sixth. Mariners pitchers have allowed 100 home runs on the road and 60 at Safeco Field.

"Erasmo has been throwing the ball well. He did again tonight, and he deserved a better fate than that," Wedge said. "We made the first inning tough for him. Later on he hung a slider to Hunter, and Aybar turned that fastball around. I don't know how he got to it, but he's been swinging the bat really well."

Greinke (6-2) won his fifth straight decision over seven starts, allowing seven hits and escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by striking out Eric Thames. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner came within two strikeouts of his career best, which came on Aug. 25, 2009, with Kansas City against Cleveland.

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