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SEA@LAA: Saunders skies a solo homer to center

ANAHEIM -- Funny game, baseball. Five days after getting spotted 16 runs in the first three innings at Texas, Mariners starter Blake Beavan didn't have quite the same luxury Tuesday.

This time it was the Angels jumping out early, hammering three home runs in the first five frames on the way to a 6-1 victory behind the standout performance of rookie right-hander Garrett Richards.

Richards recorded his first Major League win in impressive fashion, holding Seattle to one run on four hits over seven innings. The 24-year-old was recalled from Triple-A last week when Jered Weaver went on the disabled list with a lower back strain and was making his first Major League start of the season and fourth of his career.

"That kid pitched a heckuva ballgame," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "He had a live fastball and his secondary stuff was good. He pitched with a lot of poise out there. He was very impressive."

A Mariners team that had scored 55 runs in its previous six games could muster only a Michael Saunders' assault on Richards. Saunders went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and single accounting for the day's only damage.

Saunders continued a scorching road trip in which he's gone 16-for-34 (.470) to raise his average from .224 to .268 in an eight-game span.

"I know I've come a long way, but the work's not over," said Saunders, who hit just .149 last year and seemed on the verge of losing his place with the Mariners until Franklin Gutierrez got hurt. "We're not even halfway through the year, so I know we still have a long season left, but I'm seeing my hard work pay off a little bit.

"That doesn't mean I get to sit back and relax and accept that I'm having a good year. There's still a lot of work to be done and a lot of baseball left."

Wedge said Saunders "has really turned the corner" and that he's been impressed with the 25-year-old all season. But Saunders didn't get a lot of help in this one as Seattle's only other hit against Richards was a Dustin Ackley single in the sixth.

The Angels, meanwhile, were making life difficult for Beavan with six runs on 10 hits in his five innings of work. Both the hits and runs were season highs for Beavan, whose now sits 3-5 with a 5.22 ERA.

Mark Trumbo took Beavan deep in the second and fifth innings, one night after Kendrys Morales hit a pair off Jason Vargas. Those are the only multi-home run games of the season for the Angels.

Torii Hunter went back-to-back with Trumbo in the second and the big Texan now has allowed more home runs than walks this season (11 to nine) in 11 starts.

Beavan had thrown quality starts in each of his previous five games against the Angels and manager Mike Scioscia didn't think the 23-year-old was that far off in this one either.

"He's always tough on us," Scioscia said. "He's always pounding the zone, he's not going to walk a lot of guys. Probably the one pitch that he would take back is the 0-2 slider to Trumbo that he hit for the last home run to make it 6-1. He really hung that one. But outside of that, he was throwing the ball well for them."

Beavan agreed wholeheartedly with that assessment.

"The 0-2 pitch wasn't good," he said. "I thought I made a lot of good pitches and they got a lot of weak hits early on. They were trying to jump on me early because they know I like to use my fastball more than breaking stuff early on, so it's just part of making an adjustment. Whether it was a good pitch or bad pitch, they seemed to make me pay for everything."

Hisashi Iwakuma replaced Beavan in the sixth and pitched three scoreless innings. The only hit off Iwakuma was a double by Trumbo, capping his 4-for-4 day with four RBIs.

"Iwakuma has been throwing the ball a lot better," Wedge said. "It's been a consistent climb for him. His stuff continues to improve. What he did tonight and what Blake didn't do is he executed pitches."

Seattle is now 1-5 against the Halos this season, but can still pull off a series win and a winning road trip with a victory in Wednesday night's finale at Angel Stadium. The Mariners are 4-4 on this nine-game trek against three of the AL's hottest teams in the Rangers, White Sox and Angels.

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