Matthews lights up Pacific Northwest
He hits two of club's four homers to buoy Lackey's shutout
SEATTLE -- Power outage? What power outage?The Angels, who went 14 games without a home run and had only six homers all month long, got two of their four homers from Gary Matthews Jr. on Tuesday night in an 8-0 thumping of the Mariners at Safeco Field. The beneficiary was John Lackey, whose shutout was his first of the year and sixth of his career. "They've been playing good baseball and were closing the gap on us a little bit," Lackey said, having restored the Angels' four-game lead over Seattle in the American League West Division race by ending the Mariners' four-game winning streak. "It was an important game. We needed a win." The big bopper, Matthews, added two doubles with his two homers for 12 total bases, three shy of Dave Winfield's club 1991 record. Matthews hadn't homered since June 17 at Dodger Stadium and now has 12, second on the club to Vladimir Guerrero's 14. Orlando Cabrera drove in four runs with three hits, including his seventh homer, and Maicer Izturis punctuated his three-hit game with a solo blast, his second. "Be aggressive and let it go," Matthews said of his philosophy coming into the assignment against former Angels starter Jeff Weaver. "Don't try to be so fine with your swing and so analytical. "I'm not a home-run hitter. I don't have power like that to try to hit home runs. I'm really trying to make an adjustment to hitting further down in the order, how I can apply my game to the spot I'm at." He began the season leading off, batted fourth for a long spell and lately has settled into the No. 6 hole behind Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman. Matthews' second-inning homer against Weaver, a two-run shot, was followed by Izturis' rocket. "He killed that ball," manager Mike Scioscia said of Izturis' towering drive into the right-field seats. Cabrera's solo homer came off reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith in the sixth. Matthews produced his second two-homer game of the year and third of his career when he lifted one in the ninth against Mark Lowe. "I had a pure cycle last year in Texas," Matthews said, "and that's pretty hard to beat. But this was nice. To be sitting here in first place ... that's why I came here." Lackey found his rhythm and cruised after a rocky first inning to his 13th win in 19 decisions, tying for the AL lead in victories. The Mariners, who beat Kelvim Escobar behind Miguel Batista in the series opener, were threatening to bust it open with runners at first and third in the first when Lackey blew an inside fastball past Adrian Beltre for the second out. "That was probably the best fastball I've thrown in a month," Lackey said, having just missed on the outside corner on the previous pitch in the view of home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley. Falling behind Raul Ibanez and then walking him, Lackey retired Richie Sexson on a drive to Guerrero in right to leave the bases loaded -- and an inning later the Angels went to work on Weaver. A walk to Casey Kotchman in the second preceded the back-to-back blasts by Matthews and Izturis, the fifth time this season the Angels have hit consecutive homers. Jeff Mathis stroked a double into the left-field corner, and Cabrera's infield out got him home after Reggie Willits (single, two walks) and Chone Figgins had worked Weaver for free passes. Singles by Willits and Figgins, a steal (No. 28) by Figgins and Cabrera's two-run single chopped to left made it 6-0 in the fourth, and Weaver was finished, his record plunging to 2-10. Remarkably, the Angels accumulated 14 hits with their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Guerrero and Anderson, a combined 0-for-10. With Escobar needing no relief in Monday night's loss, the Angels put together back-to-back complete games for the first time since July 17-18, 1993, when Russ Springer and Mark Langston lost complete-game efforts in Cleveland. "That was a good game last night," Lackey said. "Their guy [Batista] pitched good, and our guy pitched good. "They've got a good lineup. They're tough to pitch to. I was fortunate we got a couple of double plays. I threw a lot more two-seam sinking fastballs than I normally do." The second double play, off Beltre's bat and started by Izturis at second, ended the eighth after Ichiro Suzuki had singled, stolen second and reached third with one out. "That's why he's an All-Star and a potential Cy Young," Weaver said of Lackey, his former teammate. "The guy's a great competitor, he's got great stuff, and he deserves whatever he gets."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.