ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Manager Eric Wedge figures his young Seattle Mariners are learning plenty about late-game execution and poise while facing playoff-contending teams down the stretch of their third straight losing season.
Torii Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels provided quite a lesson this time.
Hunter's RBI singles tied it in the seventh inning and ended it in the ninth, and Los Angeles kept pace in the AL wild-card race with its fifth consecutive victory, 4-3 over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.
Pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis opened the ninth with a single off Stephen Pryor (3-1) and advanced to third on a wild pitch and Peter Bourjos' bunt. Seattle walked rookie Mike Trout to face Hunter, who coolly stroked a single to center, pumping his fist as he jogged to first with the Los Angeles dugout in pursuit.
The Mariners couldn't hold on to that one-run lead in the seventh to protect what would have been ace Felix Hernandez's 14th win, failing to get a hit off the Angels' bullpen in the final 3 1-3 innings.
"That's where we've got to be better," Wedge said. "We've had so many one-run games this year ... but we've got a lot of young kids that are going through experiences right now that are going to help them be a better veteran club in a couple of years. All these one-run games that we've come up short with, we'll win a lot of those games just because of their experiences."
Justin Smoak hit his third homer in two games for the Mariners, who have lost seven of nine. Brendan Ryan and Franklin Gutierrez drove in early runs, but Seattle couldn't capitalize on a solid start by Hernandez, who struck out nine.
Pryor blamed himself for exacerbating the ninth-inning problems with a wild pitch.
"Trout and Hunter are both good hitters, so you kind of pick your poison there," he said. "We were trying to set up a double play there to get out of the inning. I tried to get Hunter to hit a ground ball, but I ended up giving up a soft liner over the infield."
Erick Aybar had an early two-run double before Hunter's impressive finish for the Angels (86-69), who remained two games behind Oakland (88-67) after the other three teams in the AL wild-card race all won Wednesday. Baltimore (89-67) is a half-game ahead of the Athletics atop the wild-card race, while Tampa Bay (85-70) has won seven straight to stay one game behind the Angels.