SEATTLE -- The Angels staged an improbable comeback against one of baseball’s best pitchers Saturday, scoring four runs in the eighth inning off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for a 5-2 victory over the Mariners in Safeco Field.
Hernandez, the leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award, was 9-0 with a 1.40 earned-run average in his previous 14 starts, including a perfect game against Tampa Bay on Aug. 15, and he hadn’t lost since June 12.
But Mike Trout and Torii Hunter sparked the eighth-inning rally with singles, and Mark Trumbo snapped a 2-2 tie with a two-run single, as the Angels extended their win streak to five, won for the ninth time in 11 games and only the third time in 53 games when trailing after seven innings.
Ervin Santana gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking two, to improve to 8-11, and the Angels moved to within 2 1/2 games of the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot.
Trailing, 2-1, Trout opened the eighth with a single to right and took third on Hunter’s single to center, the 13th hit in four games for the Angels right fielder.
Albert Pujols followed with a hard grounder that skipped by third baseman Kyle Seager and into left field to score Trout for a 2-2 tie and advance Hunter to third. The play, on which Pujols went to second, was ruled an error.
With the infield in, Kendrys Morales grounded out to shortstop, the runners holding, for the first out. With first base open, the Mariners elected to pitch to Trumbo, who has been mired in a six-week slump that dropped his average from .309 on July 18 to .278 entering Saturday.
But Trumbo hit a jam-shot into left field for a two-run single and a 4-2 lead, and Howie Kendrick greeted reliever Stephen Pryor with an RBI double to left-center that gave the Angels a 5-2 lead.
Kevin Jepsen threw a scoreless eighth, and Ernesto Frieri struck out two of three batters in the ninth for his 17th save.
Hunter also had a key hit in the first, lining a one-out single to center and scoring on Pujols’ double to right-center for a 1-0 Angels lead. But the Mariners countered with two runs in the third off Santana.
Trayvon Robinson drove a full-count pitch over the wall in right-center for a solo home run, his second of the season and the 32nd allowed by Santana, which tied the right-hander with Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter for the most homers allowed in the American League.
Dustin Ackley walked with two outs and scored on Franklin Gutierrez’s double down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead.
Hernandez escaped two-on, one-out jams in the fourth and fifth innings, striking out out Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo to end the fourth and getting Pujols to ground into an inning-ending double play in the fifth.
But Hernandez couldn’t contain the Angels in the eighth, and as good as he has been against the rest of baseball, he is now 6-11 with a 3.89 ERA in 28 starts against the Angels.