SEATTLE—Josh Wilson and Michael Saunders hit back-to-back home runs in Seattle's four-run fourth inning, and the bottom of the Mariners lineup helped Seattle break out of its offensive doldrums with a 8-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Seattle's lackluster offense that cost hitting coach Alan Cockrell his job Sunday morning, came alive in time to avoid the first winless homestand of more than four games in team history. Seattle had been swept by Texas and Tampa Bay, and dropped the first two games to the Angels before finally snapping an eight-game losing streak.
Wilson and Saunders both came through with two outs, the first multi-homer game this season for Seattle. Wilson hit a three-run shot just inside the left-field foul pole, while Saunders clubbed his first major league homer to right-center off Angels starter Ervin Santana. They were the first of the year for both and the first Seattle homers by someone other than Franklin Gutierrez since April 23 at Chicago.
Gutierrez added an RBI double, and Saunders and Adam Moore had RBI singles in the eighth as Seattle scored more than four runs for the first time since April 28 at Kansas City. The Mariners scored just 12 runs during their eight-game skid and were shut out three times.
The offensive "eruption" was more than enough for Vargas. Since his first start of the season at Texas, Vargas has allowed three earned runs or less in his last five starts.
Working quickly and in rhythm, Vargas scattered just singles and let his defense do the work. Vargas struck out four, and got 15 fly ball outs. The Angels threatened in the seventh with runners on first and third and no outs, but Vargas got Howie Kendrick on a pop out, struck out Mike Napoli and saw Brandon Wood fly out to end the threat.
Los Angeles got an unearned run in the eighth on an error and wild pitch.
Wilson finished a double short of the cycle, but his homer was the crucial blow for a team desperately seeking a big hit.
With two outs, Santana (1-3) walked Ken Griffey Jr., then walked Ryan Langerhans on a 3-2 pitch. Wilson fell behind 0-2, and worked the count even before Santana left a slider over the middle of the plate.
It was Wilson's first homer since Aug. 27, 2009 and the sixth of his career.
For Saunders, his homer came with extra meaning on Mother's Day. His mother, Jane, is undergoing treatment for cancer and in part contributed to Saunders struggles early in the season at Triple-A Tacoma. He was called up earlier this week when Milton Bradley was placed on the restricted list while dealing with personal issues.
Saunders jumped on a 2-0 fastball from Santana and his drive barely cleared the wall in right-center field. His mom, sitting in the stands behind home plate, got a round of high fives from others sitting nearby.
NOTES: Seattle 1B Casey Kotchman sat Sunday with a sore right ankle after getting hit by a pitch late in Saturday's loss. ... May continues to be Santana's worst month of his career. He fell to 7-12 all-time and hasn't won in May since 2008. ... Seattle SS Jack Wilson will participate in a simulated game before Tuesday's series opener in Baltimore and if all goes well will start that night against the Orioles.