Batista's 7-plus innings prove difference for M's in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Seattle manager John McLaren used words like "eventful" and "gut-check" to describe a harrowing ninth inning in which his bullpen-by-committee faced eight batters and nearly blew a four-run lead.

All the while, Mariners starter Miguel Batista and injured closer J.J. Putz sweated it out until Ryan Rowland-Smith slipped a called third strike past Garret Anderson to secure Seattle's 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

"We took roll call in the ninth inning, but the bullpen hung together," said McLaren, who used Mark Lowe, Brandon Morrow and Rowland-Smith to get the final three outs.

"The committee's done a nice job while J.J.'s been gone. That's a tough thing, to ask young guys to toe the rubber with the game on the line in the ninth inning. It wasn't easy at times, but they stood their ground."

Putz, who had a career-high 40 saves last season and the lowest ERA among relievers (1.38), has been sidelined since April 2 because of inflammation in cartilage on his right side. He threw a simulated game Saturday and is hopeful of being activated from the disabled list Tuesday for the start of a six-game homestand with Baltimore and Oakland.

"You want to be out there because that's your job, and I want to get back as soon as I can," Putz said. "But at the same time, we have to be patient with everything and not rush it -- because if you rush it, it could come back real quick and set you back ever farther.

"It's just frustrating because it puts guys in positions they're not used to being in."

Arthur Rhodes got the last out in the eighth for Batista (2-2), and Lowe walked three batters in the ninth before giving up a two-run single by Gary Matthews Jr. with two out.

Two batters before that hit, there was a controversial call by first-base umpire Alfonso Marquez, who ruled Erick Aybar out on a close play after Lowe fielded his high chopper and flipped the ball to Richie Sexson. Manager Mike Scioscia came out to argue, but to no avail.

Morrow walked Vladimir Guerrero after Matthews' hit, reloading the bases, and Rowland-Smith froze Anderson with a 3-2 slider to earn his second save.

"Obviously, it isn't a positive thing to lose J.J. for a couple of weeks, because he's lights-out every time he goes out there," Rowland-Smith said. "But it's been a positive thing these past two weeks because everyone's had to step up and pitch in a situation they wouldn't normally pitch in. I think that's going to make us stronger after he comes back."

Batista (2-2) scattered eight hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings, struck out eight and walked one while lowering his ERA from 6.35 to 4.38. The 37-year-old right-hander did not allow a runner past second base, and six of the hits he gave up came with two out.

"Some of those hits weren't hit hard," Batista said. "I was trying to force them to swing the bat. I was lucky enough to get them to hit the ball soft, and some of them found some holes. But that's all you can do. You can't think about striking out every one of them because they're a very good hitting team."

Sexson hit a two-run homer, helping the Mariners avoid a three-game sweep by the Angels.

Dustin Moseley (1-2) allowed four runs, eight hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander, making his fourth start with John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar on the disabled list, has a 7.79 ERA.

Sexson, who drove in four runs with a pair of homers in Friday night's 5-4 loss and was robbed of a third home run by center fielder Torii Hunter for the final out of that game, put Seattle ahead 2-0 in the second with his fifth of the season after a leadoff walk to Adrian Beltre.

The Mariners increased the margin to 4-0 in the fifth on a leadoff single by Willie Bloomquist, a hit-and-run triple to right-center by Ichiro Suzuki and an RBI single by Jose Lopez.

"It seems like every mistake is being magnified for me," Moseley said. "There are times when you're going so good and you make a mistake and the ball is hit at people, or they're missing them or popping them up. For me right now, it's the opposite. Hopefully that will change."

Game notes
After the game, the Angels optioned RHP Jason Bulger to Triple-A Salt Lake and recalled INF Kendry Morales, who will join the team from Salt Lake on Tuesday in Boston. ... Longtime Angels adviser and former big league manager Preston Gomez, still recovering from major injuries sustained when he was struck by a pickup truck at a gas station on March 26, turned 86 years old on Sunday. ... Sexson had only three hits in 45 at-bats against the Angels last season. His next home run will be his 300th in the majors and 100th with the Mariners.