SEATTLE — The Angels lost to the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, Sunday at Safeco Field, but they didn’t go down without a fight — among themselves.
Struggling right-hander Joe Blanton and pitching coach Mike Butcher had to be restrained after exchanging angry words in the dugout following the fourth inning, the lowlight of an afternoon in which the Mariners completed a three-game sweep of the Angels.
Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who had a 6.83 earned-run average and allowed 10 home runs in 29 innings of his previous five starts, allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one, to improve to 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA in seven career games against the Angels.
Blanton has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball, with a 2-12 record, a 5.53 ERA and a major league-leading 23 homers allowed, and perhaps the cumulative frustration of his season got the best of him Sunday.
Upon returning to the dugout after giving up a run in the fourth, Blanton shoved a water cooler off the bench and yelled at Butcher, who had said something to Blanton as he approached him from behind.
Teammates and coaches quickly intervened, and the incident did not escalate. After Blanton was pulled in the fifth, Butcher gave the pitcher a pat on the back.
Blanton gave up a two-run home run to Michael Saunders in the second, and the Mariners took a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Kyle Seager, who led off the inning with a single, scored on Mike Zunino’s sacrifice fly.
The Angels cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fifth when Mark Trumbo led off with his team-leading 21st homer to left field, but Seattle countered in the bottom of the fifth when Brad Miller singled, Nick Franklin walked and Raul Ibanez hit a run-scoring double to right that knocked Blanton out of the game.
In came right-hander Michael Kohn, who, with runners on second and third and no outs, struck out Kendrys Morales, Smoak and Saunders to limit the damage.
The Angels pulled to within 4-3 in the sixth when Mike Trout singled, Howie Kendrick doubled with two outs, and Alberto Callaspo followed an intentional walk to Trumbo with a two-run single to right. But with runners on first and third, Iwakuma struck out Chris Iannetta looking to end the inning.
Albert Pujols led off the eighth with a double to left-center, but reliever Charlie Furbush escaped the jam by getting Josh Hamilton to pop out to third, Kendrick to fly to right and by striking out Trumbo swinging.
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