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Angels go the distance, beat the Mariners, 9-7, with ninth inning rally

Angels go the distance, beat the Mariners, 9-7, with ninth inning rally
Albert Pujols (5) is greeted at home by Mike Trout (27) after Pujols' three-run home run against the Mariners during the ninth inning of a game on May 14. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Albert Pujols took the first two pitches Seattle closer Steve Cishek threw him in Saturday night's ninth inning, one sinker and one slider. Mike Trout stood at first base and Kole Calhoun at second. A single would tie the score, a double would push the Angels' ahead.

On the third pitch, another Cishek sinker, Pujols unloaded and, for several seconds, admired his doing. The ball went further than intended, and Pujols timed it just right. He powered it 407 feet to left field, right to the fans standing above the Safeco Field scoreboard that still showed Seattle leading, 7-6.

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The once-raucous crowd went quiet, and the Angels won, 9-7, topping the division-leading Mariners on a late comeback for the second straight night.

"That's why you play, right?" asked Joe Smith, who watched Pujols' home run from the bullpen and then secured the save. "Everybody loves the cheers, but sometimes that silence is even better."

In his first try, Jhoulys Chacin managed to complete a feat no Angels pitcher had accomplished in more than three weeks: He threw seven innings.

He exited with a four-run lead after 90 pitches, but because it had been so long since it had been done, the Angels bullpen was beleaguered. Asked somehow to patch together two innings and limit Seattle to three or fewer runs, they could not.

The Mariners rallied for five runs in the eighth inning.

A new acquisition from Atlanta, Chacin had pitched seven innings only twice since 2014 began. But, improbably, the sinker-balling right-hander did it Saturday night, utilizing an uncomplicated approach. He threw pitch after pitch low in the strike zone and beseeched the Mariners to hit his offerings lightly. For the most part, they did, and 22 of the 26 batters he faced put the ball into play. He struck out four and walked none.

"I threw a lot of strikes," Chacin said.

He cruised through the first inning and struck out Nelson Cruz to begin the second. Then Kyle Seager battled him through two two-strike fouls before singling to right, and Chacin left his next pitch, a changeup, over the middle of the plate.

Angels right-hander Jhoulys Chacin throws a pitch during the second inning of a game against the Mariners on May 14 in Seattle.
Angels right-hander Jhoulys Chacin throws a pitch during the second inning of a game against the Mariners on May 14 in Seattle. (Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)

Adam Lind hit it 402 feet to left-center field. It evaded Trout's glove by two or three inches, just over the fence, for a two-run home run.

Opposing Hisashi Iwakuma, the Angels were scoreless until the sixth, when Calhoun led off with a single and Daniel Nava doubled him in. Up with an opportunity to single in Nava and tie the score, C.J. Cron struck out swinging on three pitches. He flung his bat to the ground, then his helmet, then one of his batting gloves.

But the Angels tied the score on the next pitch they saw. Johnny Giavotella walloped an Iwakuma splitter down the left-field line for a home run. Carlos Perez followed with a double, and Gregorio Petit bunted him to third before Yunel Escobar singled through to left field and gave his team the lead.

Mariners Manager Scott Servais reacted by bringing in Joel Peralta, the ageless right-hander. He served up home runs to Calhoun and Trout, putting the Angels ahead by four, 6-2.

Choices in the Angels bullpen were limited. Left-hander Greg Mahle and right-hander Fernando Salas had pitched three straight days, and left-hander Jose Alvarez had thrown Thursday and Friday, with a long latter outing. After Mike Morin allowed four Mariners to reach base in the eighth, Salas entered the game anyway and struck out Seager with a fastball on the corner.

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But then Lind, completing his season's turnaround after a slow start, proceeded to line a curveball into right field for a double. That scored two, tying the score, and a single from Steve Clevenger put the Mariners ahead — for 10 minutes.

Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura

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