Hideki Matsui Leads Surging Angels Over Mariners

by

SEATTLE — Hideki Matsui's balance
is back. And his timing couldn't be better for the surging Los Angeles
Angels.

Matsui continued his emergence for his
new team since slugger Kendry Morales broke his leg celebrating last
week. He homered and drove in three runs, and Joe Saunders improved to
7-0 in his last 10 starts against Seattle as Los Angeles beat the
Mariners 7-1 on Friday night.

"It's just balance and timing that has
been better," Matsui said through his interpreter after his third
three-RBI game of the season. Two have come against Seattle since
Morales shattered his leg celebrating a winning slam against the
Mariners on May 29.

Last season's World Series MVP with
the Yankees followed his season high-tying three hits Thursday at Kansas
City by golfing a two-strike slider from starter Ian Snell into the
right-field bleachers in the second. That was after Snell (0-4) walked
Torii Hunter.

It was Matsui's third home run in
eight career at-bats against Snell.

"He owns me," Snell said.

He also owns the trust of the Angels
to get them through life without Morales, who was leading them in home
runs and RBIs until he was lost in a freak accident jumping onto the
plate to celebrate.

Matsui nodded when asked if he became
conscious of stepping up once Morales went down.

"Certainly his presence was
important," Matsui said. "But it's not like I'm trying to do more than I
wanted to do. It's not like I changed my approach."

It's all about results for the
35-year-old Matsui, who is 10-for-14 (.714) in his last four games. His
average has climbed from .229 to .265 since Monday.

"It's a good sign," manager Mike
Scioscia
said. "He's getting to be that guy in the important part of our
order."

Saunders (4-6), who allowed seven
runs on 10 hits against Seattle in a no-decision last weekend, permitted
nine more baserunners in the first five innings this time. Saunders
allowed eight hits and two walks but only one run in six innings.

Ichiro Suzuki had three singles, an
RBI and his fourth stolen base in two nights, but Seattle hit three
double plays behind him to doom its three-game winning streak.

Juan Rivera homered off Sean White in
a three-run seventh, and the Angels won for the eighth time in 10 games
to move above .500 for the first time since April 29.

Los Angeles won for the fourth time
in five games on a 14-game road trip — its longest trek in eight years.

Snell (0-4) allowed only three hits
in five-plus innings, but two of his four walks scored.

Afterward, manager Don Wakamatsu said
Snell wasn't providing the proper tempo in his start.

Snell wasn't thrilled with that
assessment.

"He can say whatever he wants,
because he's the manager," Snell said. "I pretty much have nothing else
to say about my tempo. I'm working on it, and I'm trying my best, and
that's all I can do is give my best.

"I'm human and I'm not Superman."

Seattle's Chad Cordero, who led the
majors with 47 saves for Washington in 2005, completed his comeback from
major shoulder surgery with his first appearance since April 29, 2008,
when he was with the Nationals. He entered with one on in the seventh
and allowed a double to Izturis and an RBI double to Howie Kendrick. He
then struck out Bobby Abreu swinging at an 89-mph fastball.

"Coming off such a major surgery and
having some people say I'll never be able to throw again, (this is) a
big deal for me," he said. "Getting back on the mound and with all the
hard work I had to go through and sometimes doubting myself as to
whether I'd be back here again — to actually be back here is something
special."

Cordero arrived Thursday from
Triple-A Tacoma to take the roster spot of the retired Ken Griffey Jr.

Notes
The Mariners scratched RHP
Doug Fister
from his scheduled start on Saturday because of shoulder
fatigue. Fister, second in the AL in ERA at 2.45 entering Friday, says
he hasn't been told when he can resume throwing. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
(0-4, 7.24 ERA), who lost his spot in the rotation last month, starts
against Ervin Santana instead. … Scioscia will miss the next two games
while he attends the graduation his daughter Taylor from Louisville
High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. Bench coach Ron Roenicke will
manage in Scioscia's absence.

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