SEATTLE -- C.J. Cron homered in the eighth and then dropped in a two-run go-ahead single in the ninth as the Angels snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-6 victory over the Mariners in Friday night's series opener at Safeco Field.
The Angels scored six times in the final three innings to rally from a 5-1 deficit and avoid their longest losing streak since 2010. Cron's bases-loaded blooper into shallow center off Mariners closer Steve Cishek ended Seattle's three-game win streak.
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"Just get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it," Cron said of what was going through his mind as he came to bat in the ninth. "I wanted to be ready to hit right away. I thought he was going to try to sneak one in there. And he did. I didn't get much of it, but I got enough."
Shortstop Ketel Marte hit a three-run triple and Nelson Cruz and Chris Iannetta hit solo homers for Seattle, but Norichika Aoki missed second base on a double to the wall by Robinson Cano in the bottom of the eighth and wound up stranded at third, costing Seattle a critical run.
The Mariners still lead the American League West by 1 1/2 games over the Rangers, with the loss being just their eighth in the past 27 games. The Angels scored twice in the eighth with Cron's homer and an RBI double by Jefry Marte off Joel Peralta, cutting the lead to one and setting up Cron's game-winner in the ninth. Fernando Salas finished it off with a 1-2-3 ninth, recording his first save since 2011 and capping a win that saw a lot of different Angels players contribute.
"We need some guys that have come up, guys that are on our depth chart from Spring Training who are here now, to contribute," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team has seven players on the disabled list. "We're going to need contributions."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Game of Cron: Cron, the Angels' hottest hitter of late, delivered once again in the series opener, hitting a solo home run to right field in the eighth and coming through with the game-winning hit in the ninth. Since April 26, Cron is batting .444 (20-for-45) with seven extra-base hits. His batting average has jumped from .153 to .279 in that span.
"Just stick with it, man," Cron said. "That's baseball. You're going to go through some stretches. Unfortunately mine was pretty long. You don't ever want it to be that long. But I knew it was going to come around. I was confident in myself, and my abilities. And it's kind of showing right now."
The Marte par-tay continues: The Mariners managed just one run -- a sacrifice fly by Leonys Martin -- in two bases-loaded situations against Angels starter Nick Tropeano. But given a third shot, Marte broke things open with his three-run triple off reliever Jose Alvarez in the sixth inning on a line drive that got under the glove of a diving Kole Calhoun in right field to give Seattle a 5-1 lead. The 22-year-old shortstop has hit .349 (29-for-83) over his last 20 games with seven doubles, two triples, a home run and 12 RBIs.
"Ketel has played great," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He really doesn't get too caught up in the moment. He's just trying to put up a good at-bat. He used the big part of the field, found a gap, big hit in the game for us. I thought that would be the one. It did get us going. We were in a good spot in this game. We let this one slip away."
Cruz cranks another: The Mariners designated hitter enjoys playing the Angels and his opposite-field shot in the fifth gave Seattle a 2-1 lead. Cruz's seventh homer of the season came on a 1-1 fastball from Tropeano, and was projected at 387 feet by Statcast™. The big fella now has 31 home runs in 135 career games against the Halos, his most against any foe.
The great escape: The Angels caught a break in the bottom of the eighth, when Cano lined a ball off the center-field fence against Joe Smith. Aoki could've scored from first base, but he missed second and had to go back, forcing him to eventually stop at third. Smith then came back to strike out Cruz, then, after intentionally walking Kyle Seager, got Franklin Gutierrez to ground out, benefiting from a slick play by fill-in shortstop Gregorio Petit.
"I just missed the bag," said Aoki, who indicated he was looking at the ball to see if Trout would run it down. More >
"That's big," Scioscia said of Smith escaping the jam. "He made some great pitches to Cruz."
"We've been staying positive. You're going to go through ups and downs, you're going to go through streaks. Obviously they're not fun when you're on the wrong side of things, but everybody stayed positive, came to the yard every day with the same mentality that we're going to play hard and try to get a 'W.'" -- Calhoun, on the Angels' mentality despite having so many players hurt and losing 10 of the previous 12 games
"We certainly put a lot of pressure on them early. Give Tropeano credit. He bent, but he didn't break. Then they put some hits against us late. We had plenty of opportunities, we just couldn't push enough across tonight. It happens." -- Servais on his team stranding 12 runners
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Third baseman Marte, called up to fill in for an ailing Yunel Escobar, became the first Angels player to record two doubles in his debut since Johnny Ray on Aug. 30, 1987, in Baltimore.
The Angels lost a challenge in the bottom of the eighth when they questioned whether Aoki had gotten back to first safely on a throw over by Smith. After a review, the safe call stood. But Aoki missed the bag at second moments later on Cano's double.
Angels:Jhoulys Chacin (1-2, 5.40 ERA) makes his Angels debut in the second of a three-game series. Chacin was acquired from the Braves on Wednesday, a move necessitated by the fact the Angels have four injured starting pitchers. The 28-year-old right-hander has struck out 27 batters and issued eight walks in 26 2/3 innings.
Mariners: Hishashi Iwakuma (1-4, 4.19 ERA) gets the start in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco. The 35-year-old right-hander is 8-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 15 prior meetings with the Halos, including a no-decision on April 22 when he allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings in a 5-2, 10-inning win in Anaheim.
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