Angels catch fire to hand Lackey first win

Angels catch fire to hand Lackey first win

SEATTLE -- John Lackey threw a lot more than two pitches on Monday, and while he still might not have been in midseason form, the Angels' offense was.

Despite obvious rust in the right-hander's first real start of the season, Torii Hunter hit a three-run double in a five-run fifth, Kendry Morales homered twice and Juan Rivera added another long ball in a 10-6 win over the Mariners before 17,340 at Safeco Field. The Angels got back over .500 with the win, snapping a three-game losing streak and taking the first of this four-game set.

"I thought on the whole we did a good job in the batter's box," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And John, I think for his first time out, I think his fastball looked good. Maybe his command wasn't as crisp as it will be, but it was a good first start and hopefully a steppingstone."

OK, well, maybe it wasn't his first start.

Lackey was ejected two tosses into his season debut on Saturday in Arlington after throwing one pitch behind Ian Kinsler and then hitting the Rangers' leadoff man with the next. On Monday, the big right-hander was effective enough to win his second outing after spending the beginning of the season on the disabled list with a right forearm strain.

Lackey got his work in, throwing 82 pitches over five innings and giving up five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter, and relievers Darren Oliver, Jose Arredondo and Justin Speier made it stand up.

"It felt good, man," said Lackey, who said he hasn't heard from the league in regards to any discipline that might come down for the incident in Texas. "I felt like I was actually getting stronger as I was going on and getting stronger with my location.

"It was definitely a different week. It'll be nice to have a normal work week and get back out there in five days."

Meanwhile, the Angels can only hope that the offense they showed on Monday night gets back out there Tuesday.

It might have taken until the fifth inning, but the Angels' bats caught fire on a chilly night in the Emerald City.

Trailing, 3-0, in the third against former Angels left-hander Jarrod Washburn, Chone Figgins stroked an RBI double to get the Angels on the board. The Mariners went up, 4-1, in the fourth when Russell Branyan led off with a homer, but the Angels batted around in the pivotal fifth.

Rivera hit a solo homer to get it started, Morales singled, Howard Kendrick doubled and Erick Aybar punched an infield single up the middle for another run. After a walk to Bobby Abreu loaded the bases, Hunter cleared them with a ball into the gap in right-center.

"Juan got us on the board, and after that, just good at-bats followed," Scioscia said. "Wash had good stuff for them. ... I just think we stacked good at-bats together."

Three of those came courtesy of Morales, who followed his fifth-inning base hit by blasting a two-run homer to center in the sixth and another shot to left leading off the eighth.

But if the Angels are to win the American League West for the third straight year, they'll need to have Lackey as their No. 1 starter and leader of the pitching staff. On Monday night, Scioscia and Lackey agreed that they saw enough to be confident about the health of his right arm and about the good outings that figure to lie ahead.

When asked if he could have gone longer than 82 pitches, Lackey said, "I felt like I had a little bit more."

"The last pitch I threw was a down-and-away fastball," he said. "That's pretty much a tell-tale sign. That's a pitch that will creep back over the plate when I get tired.

"Besides the homer, it was a handful of singles. I can make adjustments and hopefully minimize the numbers."

Scioscia said the mere presence of his ace for a lot more than two pitches means everything to the team's already-strong starting staff.

"It's nice to have a lead dog, and John takes a lot of pride in it," Scioscia said.

"It's good to see him out there."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.