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10/03/2012 2:12 AM EDT
Iwakuma, Mariners shut down Angels 6-1
SEATTLE 6, LA ANGELS 1

By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE (AP) -- Kyle Seager made a point during his offseason
workout program to get stronger. He didn't expect the work to
translate into a 20-homer year in his first full major league
season.



Seager became the first Seattle batter to hit 20 home runs in a
season since 2009 with a solo shot in the first inning and the
Mariners beat Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels 6-1 on
Tuesday night.



"It's a nice personal accomplishment. It was a good offseason
for me. I worked out really hard, trying to get myself to where
you can hit the ball a little harder and the coaches have helped
me out a lot here," Seager said. "... I don't really consider
myself a home run hitter."



Seager provided Seattle some early offense, becoming just the
fifth player in Mariners history to record a 20-homer season in
one of his first two years in the majors. He added a double in
the sixth, when the Mariners took a 5-0 lead.



With the Angels out of the playoff chase, much of the attention
turned to the Mariners announcement Tuesday that the fences
would be moved in at Safeco Field for the 2013 season, most
notably in left-center field where fly balls notoriously die.
Almost on cue, both teams peppered the outfield with fly balls
that left question about whether that would be a home run in
future seasons.



There was no question about Michael Saunders' two-run double in
the fourth inning off Angels' starter Dan Haren (12-13) that
thudded off the wall on the fly in deep left-center to score
John Jaso and Justin Smoak. Seattle's Casper Wells, twice, and
the Angels' Hank Conger both hit fly balls that very likely
could be homers in future seasons but ended up being flyouts.



"If I was a little stronger it would have gotten out," Wells
said. "Next year it would be a couple of home runs so that would
be cool."



The Mariners are moving in the fences only a few feet in some
spots, but are making a drastic change in left-center field
where it will be shortened by as much as 17 feet in one spot.



Seager reached a power milestone no Seattle batter could in each
of the last two seasons with his homer in the first. Russell
Branyan (31) and Jose Lopez (25) in 2009 were the last Seattle
hitters to reach the 20-homer mark. With the closer fences, next
year should be less celebrated reaching the mark.



"I think it would affect us in a negative way if we really
started thinking about it if everyone started trying to hit
balls in the air and that kind of deal," Seager said. "If
everyone continues with what we've been doing of late, we'll be
good."



Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5) made his bid for a spot in Seattle's 2013
plans by winning his third straight start to close the year. He
allowed six hits and struck out seven, including Angels' slugger
Albert Pujols three times, while pitching six scoreless innings.
It was just the 12th time in Pujols career that he struck out
three times in a game.



The only two pitchers to strike out Pujols three times in a
single game are Iwakuma and Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who did
in less than a week ago in Anaheim.



The Angels left runners at second and third in the first inning,
then saw Trout standing at third with no outs in the third and
failed to get him home. Iwakuma struck out Howie Kendrick,
Pujols and got a ground out from Kendrys Morales to escape the
jam.



Iwakuma, who will be a free agent after the season, finished 8-4
with a 2.65 ERA after moving into the starting rotation in July.



"He's made that transition back to starting about as good as you
can. When you see runners get on base, the way he executes
pitches, he's able to slow the game down and work to the
situation," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.



The penultimate game of the season came a night after the Angels
were eliminated from the AL wild card chase. And they played
like a team with nothing tangible left to play for, tying their
season high with three errors, including a pair in the sixth
inning by right fielder Mark Trumbo that helped two runs score.



Mike Trout had one hit in five at-bats to see his average drop
to .324. He's seven points behind leader Miguel Cabrera.



Haren tied his career high in losses, but got little help from
his defense. He struck out eight, but also gave up seven hits
and dropped his final two decisions of the season.



"We just couldn't get that hit early that would've helped Dan
relax and make some pitches," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"On the defensive side we cracked the door open for them too
often."



Notes: Kendrick had an RBI single in the ninth to score Andrew
Romine and avoid the shutout. ... The last time Pujols had two,
three-strikeout games in a season was 2008. ... Seattle CF
Franklin Gutierrez did not play Tuesday and won't in the season
finale Wednesday bothered by a sore groin.

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