ANAHEIM -- Rookie first baseman Daniel Vogelbach filled in for an ailing Nelson Cruz with a mammoth two-run homer on Sunday, but the Angels pulled out a 4-3 victory to snap Seattle's three-game win streak.The Mariners missed a chance for their first four-game series sweep of the Halos since 2005
ANAHEIM -- Rookie first baseman Daniel Vogelbach filled in for an ailing Nelson Cruz with a mammoth two-run homer on Sunday, but the Angels pulled out a 4-3 victory to snap Seattle's three-game win streak.
The Mariners missed a chance for their first four-game series sweep of the Halos since 2005 and remain 7 1/2 games back of Oakland for the American League's second Wild Card berth at 82-67.
Seattle's elimination number is down to six games in the Wild Card race, meaning they'll be mathematically eliminated by any combination of six A's wins or Mariners losses in the final 13 games. With Houston winning on Sunday, their elimination number in the AL West race is now two.
Vogelbach's fourth-inning blast was his third home run of the year -- and his career -- and the first since April 14 when he launched a moonshot above the Hit It Here Cafe in Safeco Field against the A's. The September callup got the last-minute start Sunday when Cruz was sidelined by a virus that has hit several Mariners over the past week.
"About an hour and a half before the game, Skip said, 'You're DHing today,'" Vogelbach said. "So I didn't really have time to think. It was just go in there and see the ball, hit the ball."
Vogelbach's homer was projected at 429 feet by Statcast™ as the big first baseman crushed a first-pitch fastball that Angels starter Jaime Barria left up in the zone.
"I was just trying to go in there and be aggressive," said Vogelbach. "I haven't really got a lot of at-bats, so I didn't want to make it complicated. Just see fastballs and hit 'em. And I got one up in the zone."
Marco Gonzales gave up three runs on six hits over five innings, turning a 3-3 tie over to his bullpen. Kole Calhoun's solo homer off Nick Vincent with two outs in the seventh proved to be the difference.
The 26-year-old Gonzales pitched well again in his second game back from a three-week stint on the disabled list, other than a three-run blast by the red-hot Justin Upton in the third off a 2-1 changeup.
Upton went 6-for-14 with four homers and six RBIs in the series and had another home run robbed by Mitch Haniger on Saturday night.
"It was just the wrong pitch and I picked the wrong count to do it," said Gonzales. "Hindsight, that wasn't a good pitch there. But, overall, I felt we were pretty effective. Not as sharp as I'd like to be, but I tried to compete and keep us in the ballgame."
Gonzales' last win came on July 29 against the Angels. Since then he's gone 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA in six starts, but he's had two no-decisions and a 3.60 ERA in two outings since returning from a strained cervical muscle in his neck.
The young southpaw is in line to make two more starts, though manager Scott Servais is carefully monitoring his workload. Gonzales was lifted after just 84 pitches against the Angels and has now thrown 155 2/3 innings, by far his most ever in a Major League season and just one inning shy of his career-high total in the Cardinals' system in 2014, prior to his 2016 Tommy John surgery.
"Marco wasn't quite as sharp as his last time out, but I give him a ton of credit," said Servais. "He gutted it out and got through the five innings and gave us a chance. These starts he makes down the stretch, we're not going to overextend him, but I think it's important he continues to pitch and finishes out the season strong."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In Gonzales' mind, the game boiled down to the one changeup to Upton that he left up in the zone just enough for the Angels' right fielder to push to the opposite field for his 30th homer of the season and third in the past two games against Seattle. Gonzales faced the Angels six times this season, going 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA and Upton was just 3-for-16 against him prior to the homer.
"When a guy is hot like that and seeing the ball well, you're really just trying to miss his barrel," Gonzales said. "He's pretty timed up. I've had a lot of history with that team this year and have faced them plenty of times. I guess that's kind of what happens sometimes. They end up getting you."
Haniger continued to roll in the leadoff spot for Seattle, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. The first-year AL All-Star has hit .329 (48-for-146) with 15 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 17 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 34 games since being elevated to the top spot in the order.
"What a season he's having, every day," Servais said. "He just continues to be steady Eddie, just grinding through it. It's fun to watch. He does not give away at-bats, that's for sure."
HE SAID IT
"You have find out what works for you. For me, it's swinging less when I'm up here. Not hitting as much in the cage. When you're not playing as much, you want to hit and hit and hit because you have so much free time. It's getting my work in like I was playing every day and then that's it." -- Vogelbach, on how he's had to adjust to not playing every day after being promoted from Triple-A
Wade LeBlanc (8-4, 3.56 ERA) gets the start in Monday's 5:10 p.m. PT series opener against the AL West-leading Astros at Minute Maid Park. LeBlanc just surpassed his career high with 146 2/3 innings as he's made 24 starts with a 3.45 ERA since moving into the rotation. The 34-year-old is 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in five games (three starts) this season against Houston. The Astros will counter with 24-year-old rookie southpaw Framber Valdez (3-1, 2.66 ERA).
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.