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Mariners deal AL West leaders blow before break

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- No matter what the standings say, the
Seattle Mariners played like one of baseball's best teams in their
last four games before the All-Star break.

And the Los Angeles Angels performed like one of the worst.

Miguel Olivo and Richie Sexson hit two-run homers in a five-run
fourth, and the Mariners beat the Angels 7-4 Sunday to complete an
improbable four-game sweep of the AL West leaders.

"This all started in Kansas City, we played well in Kansas
City," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "We just did not get
the big hit like we did here."

The Mariners lost two of three to the Royals earlier in the
week.

"I think what we've seen the last seven days is more indicative
of this team's talent," Hargrove said. "We didn't do anything out
of the ordinary. Everybody played their game and played it well."

The Angels' lead over second-place Texas was trimmed to five
games, while the last-place Mariners are 12½ games off the pace.

"The Angels have a good ballclub and they're going to be tough
to catch for anybody," Hargrove said. "[But] we're four games
closer than when we got here."

Even with the four wins, the Mariners' 39-48 record is the
third-worst record in the AL. They'd lost 12 of 16 entering the
series. The Angels (52-36) have the league's second-best mark, and
had won 13 of 16 coming in.

The winning streak is the Mariners' longest since last August,
while the skid is the Angels' longest since last July.

"We didn't do many things on the offensive side to get back
into the games, and Seattle just flat-out beat us," Angels manager
Mike Scioscia said. "There's no real way to sugarcoat it. We're a
much better club than we showed this weekend.

"We've hit a little bump in the road in these four games, but I
don't think it's any reason to take the whole truck apart."

The Mariners entered the series with the fewest runs and lowest
batting average in the AL, but outscored the Angels 33-13 and
outhit them 47-32. Los Angeles has the AL's second-best team ERA.

"We got taken behind the woodshed for four games," Angels
first baseman Darin Erstad said. "On paper, it shouldn't look that
way, but they've got some great hitters and they did the job. They
jumped on us pretty good the first couple of nights."

Gil Meche (9-6) earned the victory, allowing six hits and four
runs in six innings.

"I was able to keep the fastball down, for the most part," he
said. "We came in here and played some real good baseball. We did
the right things."

Eddie Guardado, the fifth Seattle pitcher, worked the ninth to
convert his 20th straight save opportunity and 21st in 22 chances.

The Mariners went ahead for good with their third five-run
inning of the series. Willie Bloomquist and Jose Lopez hit
back-to-back doubles to start the fourth, and Olivo followed with
his third homer to chase rookie Ervin Santana (3-4) and make it
5-3. Kevin Gregg relieved, and gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki
and Sexson's 18th homer with two outs.

The Angels cut Seattle's lead to 7-4 when Vladimir Guerrero
opened the sixth with his 16th homer. Jeff Nelson struck out
Guerrero with two outs and the bases loaded to end the seventh, and
pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

"It's good to see the team get on a roll like this," Nelson
said. "We've been waiting for this to happen all year. To do it on
the road is even better. This is the way I expected us to play in
spring training."

The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the first on two-out, RBI singles
by Juan Rivera and Bengie Molina. The runs were unearned because
Erstad reached base on interference by catcher Olivo.

The Mariners tied it in the third on a two-run double by Raul
Ibanez. The Angels went ahead 3-2 in the bottom half when Erstad
scored while Juan Rivera was grounding into a forceout.

Santana allowed six hits and five runs in three-plus innings.

Game notes
The Angels hadn't been swept at home in a four-game series
since the Mariners accomplished the feat in April 2002. ... Suzuki
extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and Bloomquist has hit in
a career-high eight straight. ... Erstad also reached on
interference by Olivo in the first inning Thursday night. Erstad
has gotten on by way of catcher's interference four times this
season. ... Meche struck out the side in the second. He had only
one other strikeout in the game. ... Scioscia said there's a good
chance OF Steve Finley (strained right shoulder) and SS Orlando
Cabrera (straight right elbow) will be activated at some point
during the Angels' four-game series in Minnesota that begins
Thursday night. ... The Mariners open a four-game series against
Baltimore in Seattle on Thursday night. ...The Angels optioned rookie LHP Jake Woods to Triple-A Salt Lake
after the game.