SEATTLE -- The way Ervin Santana was issuing free passes to first base on Thursday night, a Mariners offensive outburst seemed there for the taking. But Santana, who allowed a season-high seven walks -- after giving up six freebies in his previous three starts combined -- kept Seattle in check just enough, despite allowing three runs in the fourth inning. A Howard Kendrick solo home run in the fourth ended up the difference, as Los Angeles squeaked by with a 4-3 win over Seattle in front of 19,453 at Safeco Field. "Santana always has great stuff, but he was erratic today," manager Eric Wedge said. "When he's erratic like that early in the game and he walks six or seven guys in the first four or five innings, you've got to take advantage of that. You've got to finish innings off and we just didn't do that."
Santana knew from the beginning that it was going to be a tough one. "Sometimes when you walk that many guys, you don't get lucky," he said. "In the first inning, I knew I didn't have my best stuff. It was location. The ball was moving around on me. I just hung in there and was able to get some outs when I needed them." Also helping the Angels' cause was another first-inning struggle from Seattle starter Charlie Furbush. After a suffering through a shaky first in his previous start on Friday, the 25-year-old southpaw talked of how the first frame has "kind of been a telltale." Though Furbush would go on to pitch six relatively strong innings and give up just four hits, the first inning hurt him again, beginning when first baseman Mike Carp misplayed a Maicer Izturis foul popup to start the game. Just one pitch later, Furbush dinged Izturis in the thigh. After Furbush walked Peter Bourjos and struck out Kendrick, Torii Hunter launched a 1-2 pitch over the head of Casper Wells in left field for his 19th home run to put the Angels up, 3-0. Furbush ended up throwing 29 first-inning pitches in addition to his 35-pitch first inning Friday against Chicago. "Obviously the results show that I was all over the place," Furbush said. "After the first inning, I settled down all right. I just got to look forward to the next game to get the first inning out of the way." But Santana, who came in with a 6-1 record and a 2.06 ERA in his last eight starts, also lost a bit of control in the second inning. The righty went 1-2-3 in a quick first, but then walked Carp and Kyle Seager in the second. A struggling Wells then grounded out into a 5-4-3 double play, but Seattle finally got to the Santana in the third. After Kendrick's solo shot made it 4-0 in the top half, Santana allowed two consecutive walks before Ichiro Suzuki ripped a double down the first-base line to drive in Brendan Ryan and cut the Angels lead to 3-1. Two batters later, Dustin Ackley collected his 31st and 32nd RBIs of the season with a single up the middle. The Mariners had suddenly made it a one-run game. Santana gave up three more walks after the wild third inning, but kept the Mariners hitless until Ichiro's single chased him in the seventh. Santana ended up going 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs off four hits to improve to 11-9. He had tossed seven innings or more in nine straight starts, going 7-1 during that stretch, and is 5-0 in his last five road starts. "I mean, maybe for him, he was probably a little bit off," said Ackley, who extended his hitting streak to five games. "But he still had his stuff. He had the two-seamer working pretty good and the slider and everything to keep us off balance. That's kind of the way he always is. He is going to maybe make a mistake here and there, but you got to take advantage of it." Furbush (3-7) has now lost three consecutive starts after starting his Mariners campaign 2-1. "I loved the way he recovered. He battled and got us through six innings and he was better as the game went along," Wedge said. "A little erratic from time to time, but he had a good fastball and did a good job working his changeup off that. ... It was a better day for Furbush. He gave us a chance to win the ballgame. We were right there. We had our opportunities." Seattle rookies Wells and Trayvon Robinson continued to struggle mightily. Wells went 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his last 28 at-bats, while Robinson went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and has one hit in his last 18 at-bats. The Mariners went 2-5 on this homestand against Chicago and Los Angeles and will embark on a six-game road swing beginning with Oakland on Friday night.
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.