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Mariners

Hamilton’s Struggles Benefit M’s In 3-2 Win

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Josh Hamilton reacts after striking out to end the seventh inning with the potential tying run on second base (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Josh Hamilton reacts after striking out to end the seventh inning with the potential tying run on second base (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Josh Hamilton has just about hit rock-bottom with the bat for the Los Angeles Angels.

The 2010 AL MVP has been a huge disappointment since signing a five-year, $125 million contract in December after leaving Texas in free agency.

Hamilton grounded into a double play his first three times up Tuesday night and struck out his next two at-bats, and the Angels lost 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners on former Angel Kendrys Morales’ RBI single in the 10th inning.

Hamilton is batting .213 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 69 games. It was only the second time in 806 major league games that He grounded into more than one double play. He did it twice on June 18, 2010, at Boston.

“That’s a tough night for Josh, but nobody feels it more than Josh,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “For him to hit into three double plays, it obviously doesn’t happen ever.

Charlie Furbush (1-3) faced only one batter to get the victory, fanning Hamilton with runners at first and second to end the ninth.

“It’s hard for me to tell why he’s struggling because I’ve only faced him a handful of times,” Furbush said. “He’s just working through whatever he’s working through to try to get back to the big power numbers that he’s had in the past.

“He’s a great player. But for me, I just try to do the things I’ve got to do to make myself successful,” Furbush added.

Kyle Seager sparked the winning rally with a two-out double in the 10th against Garrett Richards (2-4). Morales, who struck out his previous three times up, then lined a 3-2 pitch off the glove of shortstop Erick Aybar to give Seattle the lead. It was only the third RBI for Morales in 30 at-bats against the Angels since he was traded to the Mariners in December for pitcher Jason Vargas.

Seattle grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak homered on consecutive pitches by Joe Blanton. But Mark Trumbo connected in the bottom half, and Albert Pujols tied it with a leadoff drive against Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth.

Rookie Yoervis Medina got three outs for his first major league save.

“There were a couple of guys in the bullpen we wanted to try and stay away from, and Tommy was the guy to go to right there,” said manager Eric Wedge said, who got 16 saves from Wilhelmsen in 20 opportunities before removing him from that role. “It was a fresh inning, and we had to send him out there for the next inning, too. We were planning on saving Medina to close, so we couldn’t go to him right there.”

Blanton gave up six hits in 6 2-3 innings and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, following an eight-day stretch between starts to work with pitching coach Mike Butcher on his fastball command. The right-hander also fanned 11 Houston Astros on June 3 in a 2-1 loss at Angel Stadium.

“The outcome of a game is kind of out of your hands sometimes, but your job is to keep it right there,” Blanton said. “I’ve given up home runs before. You know how to come back.”

Blanton, whose no-decision left him at 1-10, still shares the major league lead in losses with former Philadelphia Phillies teammate Cole Hamels. He has a 5.62 ERA in his first 14 starts with the Angels after signing a two-year, $15 million contract in December, and has surrendered giving seven home runs during his last four starts.

“Throwing strikes is one thing, and commanding the zone is another,” Scioscia said. “Joe has the ability to throw strikes. It’s just making that quality pitch in a good zone that has kind of wavered a little bit in his game, and that’s when he’s had trouble.”

Jeremy Bonderman pitched six innings of six-hit ball and Oliver Perez got three outs before Wilhelmsen yielded Pujols’ 12th homer on an 0-1 pitch. Until then, right-handed batters were only 5 for 48 against Wilhelmsen, who had not allowed a home run this season in 29 1-3 innings.

NOTES: Smoak’s drive landed in the first row above the 18-foot right field wall. Scioscia came out to suggest fan interference to the umpires, but the ruling was upheld after a video replay. “I saw a hand,” Scioscia said. “I couldn’t tell if it came over the barrier. I couldn’t tell if it hit his hand and rolled out.” … Ibanez has hit safely in his last 13 games at Angel Stadium — one off his career best streak at this ballpark. His first career homer off Blanton came in his 50th at-bat against him. … The Angels have scored no more than three runs in any of Blanton’s last 10 starts while he was still in the game. … The Angels have played in a major league-high 26 games that were decided by a one-run margin (10-16). … The Mariners have hit 49 home runs on the road, compared to 29 at Safeco Field. … Mariners reserve 1B Alex Liddi was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to make room on the roster for Smoak, who came off the disabled list Tuesday after missing 18 games because of an oblique strain on his right side.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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