SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners were having no luck connecting with the changeup of Los Angeles Angels starter Jason Vargas on Sunday.
So they had to change their approach to rally from a one-run deficit. Jason Bay and Michael Morse took advantage of Vargas’ mistakes with his fastball to hit a pair of solo home runs and give the Mariners a 2-1 win over the Angels.
The Mariners won three of four from the Angels over the weekend to earn their first series victory of the year.
Vargas (0-3) was commanding his changeup well and keeping Mariners hitters off balance throughout the game. Seattle knew they had to take advantage of Vargas’ fastball to find success against the former Mariners left-hander.
Seattle was trailing 1-0 in the seventh inning with Jason Bay set to leadoff the inning. Vargas struck out Bay on a changeup in each of his first two at-bats of the game. He went to the plate in the seventh looking to pounce on the first fastball he saw.
“His changeup was really good today. Really good,” Bay said. “I was trying to get to a situation where I didn’t have to see the changeup. If I got a fastball early, I was going to attack it.”
Vargas threw a first pitch fastball to Bay and left it right over the middle of the plate. Bay capitalized and put it into the Angels bullpen beyond the left field wall to even the game at 1-1.
“Bay had a couple tough at-bats against him. He’s a pro. To be able to separate from that and go up there and tie the ball game, that’s a huge blow for us,” Wedge said.
Morse had to wait out his opportunity. Vargas got ahead of him 1-2 in the count in the eighth inning but again left a fastball dead center of the plate. Morse made him pay with another blast into the Angels bullpen to give Seattle their first lead of game.
“It was just a bad pitch,” Vargas said. “Trying to go away — straight down the middle with nothing on it.”
Vargas pitched his eighth career complete game in the loss against his former team. He allowed six hits, two walks and struck out seven. Carter Capps (2-1) got the victory and Tom Wilhelmsen closed for his ninth save.
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed only an unearned run over six innings of work as he continues to battle a bad blister on his middle finger. Iwakuma struck out eight over six innings, allowing only an unearned run. He gave up just three hits and walked none.
“I thought that I was able to pitch with a better tempo today and I think that I was able to keep the team in the ball game,” Iwakuma said through a translator.
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the sixth after Andrew Romine led off with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Peter Bourjos.
Romine scored when a groundball from Mike Trout scooted underneath the glove of shortstop Robert Andino for an error. Andino has been playing more regularly for Seattle since defensive stalwart Brendan Ryan was benched for his struggles at the plate.
NOTES: Mariners OF Michael Saunders could rejoin the team on Monday following a Triple-A rehab stint. He sprained his right shoulder on April 11 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Saunders played in the field for the time for Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday. ... Iwakuma lowered his ERA to 1.67 for the season. ... The heart of the Angels lineup (Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton) were a combined 0 for 12 against Mariners pitchers on Sunday. ... Los Angeles hit just .161 over the final two games of the series.