Hunter loses ball in sun, Angels lose to Mariners, 2-1
After making a spectacular catch to end the seventh inning, Angels center fielder Torii Hunter lost Carlos Peguero's high fly ball in the sun, allowing the Seattle Mariners to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 2-1 victory in Safeco Field.
Jack Cust led off the ninth with a check-swing infield single. Cust took second on Adam Kennedy's sacrifice bunt and third on Luis Rodriguez's grounder to first. It appeared the game would go extra innings when Peguero lifted his fly ball to center, but both Hunter and Seattle center fielder Michael Saunders had battled the sun all afternoon, so nothing was certain.
Hunter appeared to have a bead on the ball but lost it at the last second, and the Angels lost their fifth straight game and seventh out of eight.
Angels right-hander Dan Haren pitched well again, allowing one run and three hits, striking out five and walking four in eight innings, but had nothing to show for it.
The Angels preserved a 1-1 tie with a pair of spectacular defensive plays to end the seventh and eighth innings. With two outs in the seventh, Peguero sent a drive to deep center, where Hunter, making his first start of the season at his old position, made a leaping catch before smacking into the wall.
With runners on first and second and two out in the eighth, third baseman Alberto Callaspo dived to his left to stop Justin Smoak's grounder and threw to first for the out.
The Angels scored in the fourth inning when Howie Kendrick drove a solo home run to left off Mariners starter Doug Fister to snap the Angels' 24-inning scoreless streak.
Seattle countered in the bottom of the fifth when Rodriguez led off with a double to right, took third on Peguero's grounder to first and scored on Chris Gimenez's sacrifice fly to center.
Hunter made a strong and accurate one-hop throw home after catching the ball in medium center, but Rodriguez got his foot to the plate just before catcher Hank Conger applied the tag.
--Mike DiGiovanna in Seattle
Photo: Angels center fielder Torii Hunter fails to make a catch on a high fly ball hit by the Mariners' Carlos Peguero in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon in Seattle. Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press