Angels pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick connects for a two-run single in the… (Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images )
SEATTLE — The confidence and good vibes the Angels generated this week with a three-game win streak seemed to disintegrate Friday night amid a flurry of walks by starter Ervin Santana and another string of scoreless innings by the offense.
But a strange thing happened at Safeco Field on the way to another momentum-sapping loss.
Albert Pujols cut into a four-run deficit with a three-run home run in the sixth inning, and the Angels took advantage of a costly throwing error during a three-run ninth to rally for a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Mariners.
Howie Kendrick provided the key blow in the ninth, a pinch-hit, two-run single off closer Brandon League that snapped a 4-4 tie, and the Angels extended their win streak to a season-high four games.
"This his huge," said outfielder Mark Trumbo, who sparked the winning rally with a single. "Good teams have a lot of come-from-behind wins. I've been waiting for a game like this for a while. It was awesome."
The Angels were 0-19 when trailing after seven innings this season when Trumbo, with Seattle leading, 4-3, smacked a first-pitch fastball from League into center field in the ninth to snap an 0-for-13 skid.
Peter Bourjos ran for Trumbo, and Alberto Callaspo walked. Erick Aybar dropped a sacrifice-bunt attempt toward the mound.
League fielded the ball and had time to get the speedy Bourjos, but his throw sailed wide of third baseman Alex Liddi and into foul territory for an error that allowed Bourjos to score and the runners to advance to second and third.
"Sometimes you can force the issue and create your breaks," Trumbo said. "We've done a better job recently of pressuring teams. They knew who was running on the bunt."
Kole Calhoun was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Kendrick, hitting for catcher John Hester, ripped League's first pitch into center field for a single and a 6-4 lead.
"Those closers try to get ahead early, and the deeper they get in the count, the nastier they usually get," Kendrick said. "I was looking for something over the plate that I could drive. To put a rally like that together is huge for the team. We hadn't done that all year."
Left-hander Scott Downs retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth for his fourth save, but he got an assist from Calhoun, who made a spectacular leaping, over-the-shoulder catch of pinch-hitter Brendan Ryan's liner to lead off the inning.
"I was playing in and kind of lost it a little in the lights," said Calhoun, who moved from left field to right for the ninth. "Once I left my feet, it came out of the lights, and I picked it up while jumping."
The comeback began in the sixth, an inning Hester, with the Angels trailing, 4-0, opened with a single to left. Maicer Izturis walked with one out and Pujols lined a three-run homer to center field, his sixth of the season and 451st of his career.
After hitting just one home run in his first 147 at-bats this season, Pujols now has five homers in 38 at-bats over his last 10 games. After driving in just five runs in his first 27 games of the season, Pujols has driven in 20 runs in his last 19 games.
"That was a huge boost," Manager Mike Scioscia said of the homer. "That's the kind of thing you need to come back in games like this."
The win eased the sting of a shoddy start by Santana, who gave up four runs and four hits and walked seven, one shy of his career high, in five innings. The right-hander never looked comfortable, throwing first-pitch balls to 12 of 25 batters, and many of his 106 pitches were well out of the strike zone.
"I don't know if I've ever seen Ervin more erratic," Scioscia said. "He had a lot of trouble with his delivery and repeating pitches, and he obviously didn't have his best stuff."
Justin Smoak drove in all four Mariners runs with an RBI fielder's choice in the first, an RBI single in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth, but Angels reliever Hisanori Takahashi threw two scoreless innings, and Jason Isringhausen added a scoreless eighth for the win.