SEATTLE -- Raul Ibanez continued to prove that experience trumps youthful exuberance, going 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs to lead the young Mariners bats in an 8-3 victory over the Angels on Friday night. "Safeco" Joe Saunders added seven shutout innings, allowing Seattle to race out to a lead that it never came close to relinquishing.
Before the game, manager Eric Wedge had lamented that the team had gone 1-3 in the team's previous series against Boston, despite scoring 30 runs, saying, "It's just a matter of putting them both together: the pitching and the offense. It seems like it's been one or the other."
The Mariners granted their skipper's wish, scoring six runs in the first four innings while Saunders allowed just five hits. The lefty has been great in Seattle, entering Friday's contest with a 2.80 ERA at Safeco Field in his career.
"I think I've been pitching kind of the same way I've been pitching all year. I may be a little more focused, a little bit more intense and the team has been playing great behind me. The defense has been awesome and we've been getting some clutch hits to give me a little bit of cushion."
Ibanez drove in the game's first run in the first inning, hitting a double to score Michael Saunders from first. He tried for third and was thrown out by catcher Chris Iannetta after Saunders crossed the plate.
That hot-hitting and aggressive play is starting to wear off on the younger players, as guys like Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Saunders follow their mentor's lead. Rookie Mike Zunino had one of his best games since being called up from Triple-A, going 3-for-4 and catching speedy Mike Trout trying to steal second base in addition to calling Joe Saunders' gem.
"You look at good offensive clubs and the [Red Sox] that were just in here," Wedge said. "The other players around [Dustin] Pedroia and [David] Ortiz are better because of what they do, they're MVP-type players. Now you see with Raul and [Kendrys] Morales, they're both kind of getting it going at the same time, you can see how that spreads around."
Seager led off the second inning with a solo home run to put Seattle up, 2-0. The shot extended the Mariners' streak of games with at least one home run to 20, the longest in club history. It also gave Seager a 12-game hitting streak.
In the second inning, the Angels failed to score despite hitting back-to-back doubles. Mark Trumbo hit the first to get in scoring position, but Alberto Callaspo hit a high-arcing fly to short right field. Trumbo, uncertain if the ball would be caught, only advanced one base, while Callaspo was rewarded for his hustle when he slid into second.
Trumbo's hesitancy proved costly when Saunders struck out consecutive batters to end the inning.
"Just like the last time he pitched against us he had good stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His velocity is bouncing back from where it was the last couple years, threw strikes, pitched ahead in the count, and it kept us off balance."
Seattle built its lead to 6-0 in the fourth inning, when Ibanez's 438-foot shot into the Hit It Here Cafe led a four-run frame. Ibanez added another deep home run in the seventh, his 24th homer of the season. He needs only six more homers this season to pass Ted Williams for the most all-time by someone over 40 years old.
"I always looked at Jamie [Moyer] and what he did and I would watch everything Edgar [Martinez] did and they were playing well into their mid-30's," Ibanez said. "So I kind of had good mentors, I was fortunate to have good mentors."
Morales followed Ibanez's first home run with a single, and advanced when Seager drew a walk. Zunino plated Morales with a single of his own, and Dustin Ackley brought in Seager with a single up the middle that split shortstop Eric Aybar and second baseman Howie Kendrick, prompting Scioscia to replace Jerome Williams with Garrett Richards.
The reliever held the Mariners bats down for 3 1/3 innings, but gave up back-to-back home runs to Ibanez and Morales in the seventh.
Los Angeles added a pair of late runs off Danny Farquhar in the eighth. Free of Saunders' grip on the Angels' offense, Aybar hit a single and was promptly brought home by a Mike Trout triple. Albert Pujols followed with an RBI single, cutting Seattle's lead to 8-2. Pujols crossed the plate on Trumbo's groundout to wrap up the night's scoring.
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.