SEATTLE – Jay Bruce hit his 300th career home run, Tom Murphy had a two-run shot, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 on Friday night.
Bruce’s seventh-inning homer to center field provided the insurance run the Mariners needed to preserve the narrow victory, snapping a three-game losing streak. Bruce became the eighth active player with 300 home runs and 300 doubles, achieved in 1,557 games. That list includes teammate Edwin Encarnacion (a late scratch due to a dental procedure) and the Angels’ Albert Pujols.
The win snapped the Angels’ three-game winning streak and wasted a fairly strong start by the Angels’ Tyler Skaggs (4-5), who gave up just five hits but made a handful of costly mistakes while giving up four runs in seven innings.
Skaggs’ first mistake came a few pitches after Murphy doubled in the third inning for the Mariners’ first hit. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale called a balk on Skaggs and sent Murphy to third. He easily scored on Dylan Moore’s single for a 1-0 lead.
Skaggs messed up again in the fifth when he walked Bruce with two outs. Murphy then homered to right field for a 3-0 lead. Murphy also picked off Brian Goodwin attempting to steal second in the seventh.
The Angels briefly got to Mike Leake (4-6) in the sixth inning when Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani hit back-to-back home runs to left field with two outs. It was the first time Los Angeles has hit consecutive home runs this season, but it wasn’t enough for the Angels.
Leake was otherwise flawless. He retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced, didn’t issue a walk against two strikeouts and scattered five hits in seven innings. He didn’t allow a base runner other than Trout and Ohtani past first base.
The Mariners’ bullpen again struggled. Reliever Austin Adams walked two players after starting the eighth. Seattle manager Scott Servais went to Jesse Biddle, who allowed Ohtani to single in a run to cut the lead to 4-3. Biddle followed by walking Kole Calhoun to load the bases. Anthony Bass came on and induced a fly ball to end the threat and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save.
Skaggs finished with eight strikeouts.
Servais sat down with LHP Yusei Kikuchi on Friday, a day after his second straight difficult start. The two talked over how the Japanese rookie felt and how he might be used going forward. Kikuchi could make another abbreviated start of one inning next week or he could be pulled for one spin of the rotation. That decision will probably come Saturday.