Angels pitcher Jason Vargas flips the ball after giving up a solo home run… (Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images )
SEATTLE — The hardest ball Angels pitcher Jason Vargas threw Sunday may have been the bullet he fired in disgust to first base on Jesus Montero's comebacker to end the eighth inning.
The left-hander was venting his frustration after giving up a home run to Michael Morse with one out in the eighth, a solo shot to left field that gave the Seattle Mariners a 2-1 victory in Safeco Field and sent the Angels to their fifth loss in seven games.
"I mean, who wants to give up a homer in the eighth inning with their closer getting loose and they take the lead?" Vargas said. "Yeah, it's something that definitely got under my skin."
BOX SCORE: Seattle 2, Angels 1
Vargas wasn't the only one in the visiting clubhouse in a sour mood. The Angels thought they had turned a corner with last weekend's three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, but after losing two of three to Texas and three of four to lowly Seattle, they have the same 9-15 record they had after 24 games in 2012.
They were shut down Sunday by Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who gave up three hits, struck out eight and walked none in six innings, and relievers Carter Capps and Tom Wilhelmsen, scoring their only run on a sixth-inning error. They were 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position in the series.
Even more surprising is that the heart of a lineup that was supposed to be potent enough to propel the Angels to their first playoff berth in four years is dragging the team down.
Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have combined to hit .167 (11 for 66) with 16 strikeouts and three runs batted in over the last six games. They and No. 5 hitter Mark Trumbo combined to go 0 for 16 with six strikeouts Sunday.
Hamilton has struggled throughout a season in which he's batting .219 with 29 strikeouts, but Pujols has had a particularly rough go of it lately, mustering three hits and two RBIs in his last 33 at-bats, his average falling from .322 on April 20 to .244.
Pujols was sarcastic in response to a question about the plantar fasciitis in his left foot that has been bothering him all season.
"It's hurting so bad, man," he said. "It's killing me."
Is the injury affecting him at the plate?
"Yeah, I'm hitting .240, is that why you ask me?" he said. "It's a long season. Talk to me in September."
Pujols' patience ran out toward the end of a 31/2-minute interview when a Seattle Internet reporter asked him about his foot again.
"Can we just stop talking about my foot?" Pujols said. "It's not about my foot. I mean, I'm playing, so as long as I keep playing, why are we talking about it? It seems like every day you guys want to make a big deal about it. Just get over it, and let's move on. Let's talk about baseball and about the game and our club."
Not much to talk about there. Vargas, who entered with an 0-2 record and 5.82 earned-run average, threw his best game of the season, giving up two runs and six hits, striking out seven and walking two in eight innings.
But he grooved a first-pitch fastball to Jason Bay, who hit a solo homer to left to tie the score in the seventh, and Morse's homer came on a poorly placed fastball.
"If he pitches like that, he's going to win a lot of games for us," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "So that's encouraging."