For Garret Anderson, it was nice to experience the thrill of victory instead of the agony of the feet.
The veteran outfielder has played all season with a painful strained arch in his left foot, an injury that has contributed to hamstring and lower-back injuries and plenty of time on the bench and in the designated hitter’s spot.
But Anderson has started to look like his old self the last month, rekindling a power stroke that has led to seven home runs in his last 22 games, including a score-tying shot in the sixth inning that helped the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners, 5-3, Wednesday night in Safeco Field.
John Lackey ended two personal slumps, one in August and one against the Mariners, with 6 1/3 strong innings, giving up three runs and nine hits to improve to 11-9. Lackey was 0-3 with a 7.07 earned-run average in five August starts before Wednesday and 0-2 with a 9.74 ERA against the Mariners this season.
Set-up man Scot Shields pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings, striking out two, and Francisco Rodriguez threw a scoreless ninth for his 37th save, ending the Angels’ three-game losing streak and Seattle’s six-game winning streak.
The Angels lost a day on the calendar, but they didn’t lose ground on Oakland, remaining 7 1/2 games behind the streaking A’s in the American League West.
“We need to win, it doesn’t matter who we’re facing,” Lackey said. “We lost three in a row, and I want to be the guy to stop those things. Oakland is definitely making it tough on us. We’ve got to win and stay right there. We don’t want to be in a position where we have to win all seven games” remaining against the A’s.
Having Anderson drive the ball like he has in his last 23 games, a stretch in which he has 23 runs batted in, would help the Angels’ cause. Anderson led off the sixth inning with his 15th homer, a solo shot to right field against left-hander Jake Woods, to get the Angels rolling in the right direction.
“A lot of it has to do with his health,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of Anderson, who has been so frustrated by his injuries that he no longer wants to talk about them. “He had a problem getting comfortable in the box for a while, but he feels good now, he’s using the whole field, and when he gets his pitch, he’s driving it, like he did tonight.”
The lead changed hands three times in the first six innings Wednesday night, with the Angels surging ahead with a two-run sixth, which Anderson, who also singled in the fourth inning, led off with his homer.
Robb Quinlan’s double to right-center field knocked out Woods, who was replaced by right-hander Joel Pineiro. Adam Kennedy, pinch-hitting for Tim Salmon, who singled and doubled in his first two at-bats, struck out, but Howie Kendrick hit a run-scoring double to left field for a 4-3 lead.
The Angels tacked on another run in the seventh when Guerrero rocketed a one-out double over left fielder Raul Ibanez’s head and scored on Juan Rivera’s single to center for a 5-3 lead.
Seattle scored the game’s first run on a disputed suicide squeeze play in the third, which Yuniesky Betancourt opened with a triple to right-center field. Chris Snelling’s one-out squeeze bunt hit the batter’s front foot and should have been ruled foul, but plate umpire Jerry Crawford allowed the play to stand.
Scioscia pleaded with Crawford to seek help from the other umpires, “but he said the other umpires would have come forward if they saw it hit his foot,” Scioscia said. “So, there was no need to ask for help.” Replays showed the ball hit Snelling’s foot.
The Angels countered with two runs in the top of the fourth, a rally Rivera and Anderson started with singles. Quinlan’s double-play grounder scored one run, and consecutive doubles by Salmon and Kendrick scored another.
The Mariners answered with two runs in the fourth on Kenji Johjima’s run-scoring double and Jose Lopez’s run-scoring single. Rivera, starting in center field for the Angels, helped snuff out a rally by throwing out Richie Sexson at third in the sixth inning.