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Seattle a half-game behind Boston

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Mariners missed a great opportunity.

They knew it, too.

Tim Salmon hit a run-scoring single and Scott Spiezio followed
with an RBI double in the eighth inning to give the Anaheim Angels
a 2-1 victory, denying the Mariners a chance to take over the AL
wild-card lead Sunday.

"It's tough," said Seattle starter Ryan Franklin, who threw 7
2/3 strong innings. "That's all I can say. It's tough."

Seattle came close to tying it in the ninth, putting a runner on
third with one out. But Mike Cameron struck out looking against
Troy Percival and Randy Winn popped up to end it.

"I thought maybe it was down a little bit," Cameron said,
recalling the third strike. "Then again, when it's like 97 (mph),
who knows?"

"We had a chance in the ninth, with a man on and less than two
outs. We just couldn't get him in," manager Bob Melvin said.

The Mariners remained a half-game behind Boston for the wild
card. The Red Sox lost to Chicago.

"Any loss this time of year is frustrating, especially in the
position we're in," catcher Dan Wilson said. "We just need to
keep working. We need to stay positive. Things will get better."

Seattle trails Oakland by three games in the AL West, with the
Athletics playing Sunday night at Texas.

Cameron put the Mariners ahead 1-0 with a solo home run in the
second off Kevin Gregg (2-0). It appeared the lead would stand the
way Franklin (9-13) was throwing, holding the Angels to three hits
through seven innings.

"He pitched great. He really did," Melvin said. "He's done
that several times, a bunch of times, this year. He pitched great
today. It's too bad we can't score a few more runs."

But in the eighth, David Eckstein doubled. With first base open,
Melvin had Franklin intentionally walk Garret Anderson, who at that
point was 10-for-24 lifetime against the right-hander.

Melvin chose to play the percentages against Salmon, who was
4-for-23 against Franklin, rather than go to the bullpen.

"He'd given up the one hit to Eckstein that inning, and we
weren't going to let Anderson beat us there," Melvin said. "He'd
handled Salmon. I was going to let him handle Salmon there, and he
gets the hit."

Salmon singled, and Eckstein scored when right fielder Ichiro Suzuki's throw to the plate was off the mark.

"With the year Garret's had, he's the one guy you can't let
beat you," Salmon agreed. "The situation was right to put him on
base and pitch to me. It made sense, but tonight I came out on
top."

It spoiled another strong performance by Franklin. He placed one
down and away, a tough location to hit, but Salmon connected.

"It was a good pitch," Franklin said. "He was probably
looking for something down and away. I could have thrown a fastball
in. It's easy to second-guess yourself after you've already done
it."

"I'm not saying it was a bad pitch," he added. "I'd throw it
again."

Franklin was replaced by Rafael Soriano, and Spiezio got a clean
hit that darted past Gold Glove first baseman John Olerud down the
line.

"It was a hard chopper," Olerud said. "It was right down the
line, and I just couldn't get there quick enough."

Percival worked the ninth for this 33rd save in 36
opportunities. It was his fourth save against the Mariners this
season and the 20th of his career.

Gregg, a September call-up, threw seven innings, allowing one
run on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

"I was pleased with my outing either way, but it kind of tops
it off to score a couple of runs and pull out a victory as a
team," Gregg said.

The Mariners threatened in the eighth. Pinch-hitter John Mabry
drew a one-out walk off reliever Brendan Donnelly, who then got
Suzuki on a fly to center. After a walk to Carlos Guillen, Bret Boone grounded out.

Game notes
Angels manager Mike Scioscia complained to plate umpire
Tony Randazzo after Eckstein was picked off at first in the first.
They talked for several minutes before Anaheim batted in the
second. ... The crowd of 45,861 was Seattle's 23rd sellout of the
season. ... Anaheim 2B Adam Kennedy extended his hitting streak to
10 games with a single in the third.