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Pineiro holds Angels to three hits through eight

SEATTLE (AP) -- Joel Pineiro got everything right at the wrong
time for the Los Angeles Angels.

Pineiro pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, Raul
Ibanez homered and had four hits, and the Seattle Mariners beat the
Angels 8-1 Monday night to trim Los Angeles' lead in the AL West to
one game over Oakland.

"It's probably one of the best games he's pitched against us,"
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "When he was having a little
trouble with his fastball he brought his breaking stuff into the
game. We didn't get too many good looks at him. He pitched a
terrific ballgame against us."

Richie Sexson hit a two-run homer in the third, his 35th, to put
the Mariners ahead 2-1. Ibanez stole home on a double steal in the
fifth and hit his 18th homer in the seventh, a solo shot.

Pineiro (7-9) has fought through injuries and inconsistency for
more than a year. He entered with a 5.43 ERA, but he has turned a
dismal season around this month. In three starts spanning 22 1/3
innings, he has allowed only four runs for a 1.61 ERA.

"He pretty much kept a good-hitting ballclub off-balance all
night," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "We've seen him
getting stronger and stronger and getting more confidence in
himself. His last four or five outings, each one has been just a
little bit better than the other one. And tonight was probably the
best of them all."

Pineiro hurt his right elbow on June 26 last year and was shut
down for the rest of the season. He had another shoulder setback in
spring training and did not make his first start until April 15.
Then in late May he was taken out of the rotation for a week to
refine his delivery.

"We didn't see any significant velocity until the last five,
six, seven starts," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "He's
throwing the ball better and the velocity has been on the increase
the past four or five starts."

Chone Figgins doubled on Pineiro's second pitch, extending his
hitting streak to 11 games. He scored on Garret Anderson's
sacrifice fly. Of the 101 runs Pineiro has allowed this season, 16
have come in the first inning. But the Mariners improved to 16-33
when their opponent scores in the first.

After Adam Kennedy's one-out double in the third, Pineiro
retired 14 batters in a row. He issued just one walk and struck out
two in 7 2-3 innings. It was the second time he beat the Angels
this season.

"I've been feeling great all year," Pineiro said. "It was
just a matter of having that extra confidence to go out there and
challenge people. Maybe it's a little too late in the season, but
it's something I can carry over to next year."

The Angels are more concerned about this year.

"It's just as big as yesterday, tomorrow and the day after
that," Kennedy said. "Every game gets big from here on out."

Kennedy added that Pineiro was "more like he was before he got
hurt, more life on his ball, working both sides of the plate. His
intensity and arm strength are back, and it shows."

Ichiro Suzuki opened the third with a single and stole second.
Sexson's shot off Ervin Santana (8-8) gave him 106 RBI.

Santana threw 96 pitches in five innings. He gave up eight hits
and four runs.

The Mariners added a run in the fourth on Yorvit Torrealba's RBI
single with two outs.

Ibanez started the fifth with a double off the center-field
wall. With two outs and runners at the corners, Adrian Beltre broke
for second. Angels catcher Bengie Molina threw down, and Ibanez
broke for the plate. Second baseman Kennedy's throw back home was
wide and Ibanez slid in without a tag.

"I didn't even know that was a steal," Ibanez said. "It's a
cheap steal."

It was the second steal of home by the Mariners this season.
Bret Boone did it April 30 in Oakland, also on a double steal.

Ibanez homered on a 3-2 pitch from Kevin Gregg in the seventh,
and Jose Lopez added an RBI double for a 6-1 lead.

Pineiro ran into trouble in the eighth and left with the bases
loaded, but J.J. Putz retired Orlando Cabrera on a fly ball to end
the inning.

The Mariners added two in the eighth on Jeremy Reed's RBI double
and Ibanez's run-scoring single.

Game notes
The Mariners had a season-high four stolen bases, the most
against the Angels this season. ... Suzuki received his 20th
intentional walk in the fourth inning. That's one more than his
league-leading 19 last season. He's second this year behind Angels
slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who has 22. ... Figgins is hitting .390
(23-for-59) against the Mariners this season. ... Torrealba, who
had three singles, has five hits in his last six at-bats since
breaking an 0-for-24 slide.