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Mariners can't contain Angels after Paxton's exit

Lefty departs in 1st inning with stiff lower back
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

ANAHEIM -- Losing a game to the rival Angels is one thing. Losing James Paxton to injury while losing to the Angels is a whole 'nuther matter and the Mariners were dealt both blows on Thursday in an 11-2 runaway in the series finale at Angel Stadium.

Paxton was pulled with a stiff lower back after giving up three runs on a pair of homers in his first 17 pitches, while getting just two outs in the first inning. And things didn't get much better after that as the Mariners were handed their most lopsided loss since a 10-0 setback at Kansas City in the eighth game of the season.

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ANAHEIM -- Losing a game to the rival Angels is one thing. Losing James Paxton to injury while losing to the Angels is a whole 'nuther matter and the Mariners were dealt both blows on Thursday in an 11-2 runaway in the series finale at Angel Stadium.

Paxton was pulled with a stiff lower back after giving up three runs on a pair of homers in his first 17 pitches, while getting just two outs in the first inning. And things didn't get much better after that as the Mariners were handed their most lopsided loss since a 10-0 setback at Kansas City in the eighth game of the season.

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Video: SEA@LAA: Paxton exits in 1st with back stiffness

"It was not our night," said manager Scott Servais, though he believes Paxton's back issue isn't serious and he should be able to return after next week's All-Star break.

Dee Gordon went 2-for-5 and scored a run in the first, but the Mariners never crossed the plate again against Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs and a pair of relievers until Guillermo Heredia's RBI double in the ninth.

The Mariners have totaled just 16 runs while losing four of their last six games.

"Teams are pitching us certain ways, we've got to make adjustments," Servais said. "We're seeing a lot of offspeed pitches, we're getting some to hit and we're not hitting them. Baseball is streaky. We're going into a good place to hit in Colorado so hopefully we get back on track here this weekend."

Paxton's early departure forced the Mariners to use six relievers, including utility infielder Andrew Romine in the eighth inning. Romine, making the fifth mound appearance of his career, retired Mike Trout and Albert Pujols but surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk.

Video: SEA@LAA: Romine pitches the 8th inning vs. Angels

The Mariners remain just three games back of Houston in the American League West at 58-36, but have lost five of their last eight games as they head to Colorado for a three-game set before the All-Star break.

Paxton (8-4, 3.70 ERA) was only pitching Thursday because Felix Hernandez went on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week with his own stiff back. Paxton was still throwing on his normal fifth day because of an off-day on Monday, but never got loosened up and gave up a leadoff homer to David Fletcher and a two-run shot to Pujols before being replaced by Chasen Bradford.

Paxton said the back felt stiff in the bullpen, but he hoped it wouldn't be a problem once the adrenaline kicked in. Instead, the 29-year-old southpaw will look to heal up and be ready for the second half.

"I'm very disappointed," Paxton said. "I wanted to go out there and finish strong and help us win this series. It's all about winning games. They all count. We're trying to make it to the postseason and I was disappointed I wasn't able to go out there and give a good effort today. I tried. I really wanted it, but I just wasn't able to do it."

Pujols wound up going 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs to lead the Angels' 15-hit, four-homer attack.

The Angels took two of three from the Mariners to win the series and keep their Wild Card hopes alive at 48-46, now 10 back of Seattle for the final postseason berth in the AL. The two teams still face each other seven more times in Anaheim, including a three-game set just prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

SOUND SMART
Pujols' two home runs -- in the first off Paxton and in the sixth off Nick Rumbelow -- moved him into a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth on MLB's all-time list with 630. He also leapfrogged Rod Carew and moved into a tie with Rickey Henderson for 25th on the all-time hits list with 3,055. Craig Biggio is next up in 24th with 3,080, while Ichiro Suzuki sits 22nd with 3,089.

Video: Must C Classic: Pujols ties Griffey Jr. in career HRs

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gordon showed once again how much speed can make a difference when he beat out an infield single on a slow roller to Skaggs leading off the game, then hustled to second when Skaggs flipped the ball to first with nobody covering. Gordon got down the line in 3.88 seconds at a sprint speed of 29.4 feet/second, which is faster than his season average of 29.2. Gordon then really dialed it up in scoring from second on Kyle Seager's single to right, going home in 6.49 seconds with a sprint speed of 31.2 feet/second (anything above 30 is considered elite).

Video: SEA@LAA: Gordon's speedy baserunning

HE SAID IT
"You feel really good anytime he steps on the mound. He's got a chance to go out and dominate the game. He's done it many, many times here in the first half. But we did the right thing. There was no reason to push it. He certainly didn't have it, he wasn't right. Let's just shut it down, give it a chance to calm down and come back after the break." -- Servais, on how the wind went out of the sails with Paxton's early departure

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Mariners unsuccessfully challenged an out call on a popup by Jean Segura, the second batter in the first inning. Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons caught the ball in shallow left field, but lost it as he turned to throw back in with Gordon on second base. After a one-minute, 13-second review, the out call was confirmed as the replay showed Simmons had possession and control of the ball before dropping it. The Mariners wound up scoring once that inning on Seager's RBI single, but could have had a bigger inning had the call been overturned.

Video: SEA@LAA: Simmons' catch survives review in the 1st

UP NEXT
Right-hander Christian Bergman will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make a spot start in place of Hernandez in Friday's 5:40 p.m. PT series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field. Bergman threw seven scoreless innings with two hits vs. Texas in his only prior start for Seattle this season. The 30-year-old was 6-4 with a 6.69 ERA in 30 games (eight starts) during his time with Colorado from 2014-16. The Rockies will counter with right-hander Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 5.34 ERA).

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, James Paxton