Howie Kenrick walks off the field as closer Tom Wilhelmsen and catcher Jesus… (Ted S. Warren / Associated…)
SEATTLE — It seemed like progress for Joe Blanton, who delivered his first quality start of the season Saturday night, but even after matching Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for six innings, the Angels right-hander took no solace in a 3-2 loss the Mariners in Safeco Field.
“I'm not pleased, not with four walks,” said Blanton, who has averaged only 2.4 walks per nine innings in his career. “I don't like walking guys no matter what. I can live with myself when guys are smacking the ball all over the place and I'm throwing strikes. With walks, you're basically beating yourself.”
Blanton gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings and struck out five to fall to 0-4 with a 7.09 earned-run average.
BOX SCORE: Seattle 3, Angels 2
Only one of his free passes led to a run, but it was a big one.
With a 2-0 lead in the sixth, Blanton walked Raul Ibanez and gave up a two-run home run to Seattle catcher Jesus Montero. Not wanting to go to his depleted bullpen too early, Manager Mike Scioscia let Blanton start the seventh.
Kyle Seager and Michael Morse opened with singles, and out came Blanton, who has given up at least one hit in all 30 of the innings he has started this season. Left-hander Michael Roth struck out Justin Smoak, but ex-Angels slugger Kendrys Morales came through with a pinch-hit, run-scoring single for a 3-2 lead.
“At some point these starters have to get deeper if we're going to get rolling the way we need to,” Scioscia said. “Joe uncharacteristically walked guys tonight. That caused him to throw a lot of extra pitches and got him into some jams, but I actually thought he pitched well.”
Hernandez was better. The right-hander allowed two runs — one earned — and five hits in eight innings, striking out seven, walking one and retiring the last 14 batters he faced for his first win over the Angels since Sept. 6, 2011.
Hernandez (3-2) has been dominant for a decade, winning the 2010 American League Cy Young Award and throwing a perfect game in 2012, but he entered Saturday with a 6-12 record and 4.07 ERA in 30 career starts against the Angels.
He gave up both runs in the third, which Chris Iannetta led off with a homer to left-center.
Peter Bourjos singled, stole his first base of the season, took third on Montero's throwing error and scored on Mike Trout's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
The Angels missed a chance to pad the lead in the fourth when, with runners on first and third and one out, Brendan Harris poked a suicide-squeeze attempt right back to Hernandez, who charged and flipped the ball with his glove to Montero, who tagged out Mark Trumbo at the plate.
“He's an athletic dude — that was a real nice play by him,” Trumbo said of Hernandez. “I wasn't terribly surprised because I've seen him make some good plays before.”