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Angels lose one in the sun to Mariners, 2-1

Torii Hunter can't find a routine fly ball in the ninth inning and Angel drop their fifth in a row despite another strong outing by Dan Haren.

May 19, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Seattle

After two miserable nights in rainy, frigid Oakland, where they lost an extra-innings heartbreaker Monday and a 14-run blowout Tuesday, the Angels could not believe the warmth and sunshine that greeted them in the often-gloomy Pacific Northwest.

"It was like we were locked in a shower for two days," outfielder Torii Hunter said upon arriving in Safeco Field on Wednesday. "Man, I'm so happy to see the sun."

Thursday, Hunter was cursing that sun.

Making his first start of the season in center field, the nine-time Gold Glove award winner lost a fly ball in the sun in the ninth inning Thursday, allowing the Seattle Mariners to score the winning run in a 2-1 victory.

The Angels' fifth consecutive loss and seventh in eight games provided a bitter and perhaps fitting end to a dismal trip in which the Angels went 1-6 against American League West rivals Texas, Oakland and Seattle.

"It's been a bad week for all of us and seven weeks of hell for me," said Hunter, who is batting .218 and has not hit a home run since April 21. "Blame me for some of the losses. It's terrible. I should be doing my job better."

Hunter, who made a spectacular leaping catch of Carlos Peguero's drive before crashing into the wall to end the seventh inning, did not have much of a chance against a bright sun that players from both teams struggled with in the later innings.

With the score tied, 1-1, Seattle cleanup batter Jack Cust opened the ninth with a check-swing tapper to third for an infield single off reliever Scott Downs. Cust took second on Adam Kennedy's bunt and third on Luis Rodriguez's grounder to first.

Peguero hit a routine fly ball to center, and the Angels appeared headed for their 11th extra-inning game, but Hunter, who was wearing sunglasses, lost the ball, which dropped without touching his glove.

"I saw it off the bat, but when it got to the highest point, I didn't see it anymore," Hunter said. "I put my glove where I thought it would fall. You can't catch what you can't see. I've lost balls in the sun, but never to lose a game — that stings even more."

Dan Haren pitched well again for the Angels, giving up one run and three hits in eight innings, but had nothing to show for it. The right-hander is winless in six starts despite a 2.35 earned-run average in the six games, in which the Angels have scored 10 runs.

"If you pitch well and the team loses, you don't get anything from it," Haren said. "Of course I'm frustrated, but everybody is frustrated."

The Angels ended a 24-inning scoreless streak when Howie Kendrick hit a solo home run to left field off Mariners starter Doug Fister in the fourth inning, but they managed only six other hits and went hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Angels hit .201 (46 for 229) overall and .106 (five for 47) with runners in scoring position on the trip. They fell to 22-23, the first time since April 8 they have been below .500.

"We obviously have to hit more, and we're going to," Haren said. "We've played good baseball for the most part. It feels like we've lost 20 in a row, but really, we're [two] games out of first place.

"We're lucky in that respect that no one has pulled away so far. We play every team [in the division] 15 more times, so there's still a long way to go. We're too good of a ballclub to not turn it around."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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