SEATTLE — Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer, Mitch Haniger was a double short of the cycle and Andrew Albers pitched six scoreless innings as the Seattle Mariners gained ground in the wild-card chase with an 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Cruz’s 32nd homer capped a six-run fourth as Seattle opened an 8-0 lead. Haniger homered in the first, tripled in the third and singled in the fourth. He grounded out in the sixth and was on deck when the eighth ended.
Albers (4-1), acquired from Atlanta on Aug. 11, allowed four hits while striking out four and walking one. Dan Altavilla and Shae Simmons each pitched a scoreless inning before Casey Lawrence allowed a run on three hits in the ninth.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney (1-2) left in the third after 60 pitches with shoulder soreness.
Seattle moved within three games of Minnesota for the second AL wild card. All four teams that were directly ahead of the Mariners in the race lost.
With Seattle up 2-0, Guillermo Heredia doubled to open the fourth and Carlos Ruiz singled. Heredia scored on Jean Segura’s one-out infield single. Haniger’s single loaded the bases, and Ruiz scored on a passed ball to make it 4-0. Robinson Cano followed with an RBI single and Cruz lined an 0-2 pitch over the left-center wall, giving him an AL-high 107 RBIs.
Haniger staked the Mariners to a 1-0 lead in the first with his 11th homer.
He opened the third with a triple that right fielder Kole Calhoun gloved following a long run, but the ball popped out as his dive carried into the corner. Cano then sliced an opposite-field double down the left-field line.
Heaney was removed with one out in the third. He allowed two runs and four hits with two walks in his fifth start since coming off the disabled list. The 26-year-old lefty missed almost all of 2016 and the first 121 games this season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was ejected by plate umpire David Rackley in the fourth following a visit to the mound.
STAN THE MAN
Cano’s third-inning double was his 30th of the year, joining Hall of Famer Stan Musial as the only players with 30 or more doubles in 13 consecutive seasons. Cano is the only player to do it in the first 13 seasons of his career. Cano also doubled in the sixth.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Albert Pujols initially doubled to left-center to open the fourth, when it appeared he narrowly slid in ahead of the off-target throw from Heredia, which forced Cano to make a diving tag attempt. The Mariners challenged and the call was overturned after a replay review.
Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, sidelined since early May with right shoulder inflammation, pitched a simulated game but is not ready to return. “He has worked his tail off even to get to the point to where he got today, but we’re kind of running up against it with three weeks left in the season,” manager Scott Servais said. “From where I saw him last time to where he was today, certainly a positive, but he’s still got a little work to do.” . CF Jarrod Dyson hasn’t played since Sept. 2 after aggravating a groin injury that put him on the DL from Aug. 19-31.
Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (7-2, 4.00 ERA) closes out the three-game series at Safeco Field. He has lasted just three innings in each of his last two starts, giving up a total of 13 runs, after allowing 13 runs combined over his seven previous starts.
Mariners: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-5, 4.35) makes his eighth start since being acquired from Tampa Bay in late July. Ramirez has pitched six innings in each of his last five starts.