ANAHEIM, Calif. — The difference Wednesday night between the Mariners and Angels was a single mistake by one of the many Los Angeles pitchers still trying to figure out how to be successful in the big leagues.
Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager homered to lead Seattle past the Angels 2-1, extending its longest winning streak of the season to eight games.
Cruz hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh off Jose Alvarez (1-3), his 37th of the season and fourth in four games.
“At times he’s made some pitches. He’s trying to find that blend,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s got a really explosive fastball and a slider, but the last two games he’s hung sliders and they went out of the park.”
It was the Cruz’s 10th home run this year against Los Angeles, more than any other Mariners player has hit in one season against a single opponent.
Jay Buhner belted nine off Minnesota in 1995.
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched into the seventh inning and earned his 16th win for Seattle (78-68), which completed a three-game sweep.
The surging Mariners moved within 1 1/2 games of Toronto for the second AL wild card, with Detroit the only team in between.
It’s the first time the Mariners have won eight in a row since July 2013. They have the longest active streak in the majors.
“Guys are really confident, really happy and the energy is up,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’re just focusing on one game, that’s the key. And then you get on the plane and you’re thinking, just win the series. And you win the first couple and you think, why not sweep it? That’s kind of been our attitude.”
Seager hit his career-best 29th homer off Jhoulys Chacin in the fifth to tie it at 1.
Chacin came out of the bullpen to make his first start since Aug. 21, in place of injured Tyler Skaggs. Chacin settled for a no-decision, limiting the Mariners to one run and three hits in six innings while striking out five. He threw 78 pitches, close to his prescribed limit.
“I think he commanded the sinker, changed speeds very well,” Scioscia said. “And for a guy who hadn’t started very well, he threw six strong innings against a team who has been hitting the ball well.”
Since losing five straight starts through June and July, Chacin is 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA as a starter.
Chacin might need to make another start in place of Skaggs. An MRI revealed no damage to his surgically repaired elbow, but Skaggs will be out at least a week. He said he plans to pitch again this season, however, possibly making Chacin the odd man out in the rotation at some point.
“I tried to call the right pitches for him and he did an unbelievable job,” catcher Juan Graterol said. “He’s doing great. He’s throwing everything for a strike. He’s always ahead in the count.”
Edwin Diaz pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
Iwakuma (16-11) won his second straight, allowing one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He exited after Cliff Pennington bunted for a leadoff single and advanced on Graterol’s sacrifice.
“He dialed it up. You could see the look on his face,” Servais said. “He’s very good at slowing the game down. It’s almost to the point where it drives you crazy, like, let’s go! But that’s what he does; he slows it down, he executes pitches.”
Tom Wilhelmsen retired the next two batters.
Graterol, who made his first major league start, scored on a wild pitch by Iwakuma in the third and went 2 for 2, the only Los Angeles player with a multihit game.
Angels: Skaggs had an MRI to find the cause of soreness in his left forearm. The test showed no damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, which was repaired with Tommy John surgery in 2014. The MRI came back clean but Skaggs was diagnosed with a mild pronator strain and will be shut down for at least seven days. … RHP Cory Rasmus (groin strain) was activated from the 60-day disabled list. Rasmus hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 12 and was on a rehab assignment last week with Class-A Orem. … RHP Matt Shoemaker (skull fracture) was transferred to the 60-day DL.
Angels RHP Daniel Wright pitches the opener of a four-game series against Toronto on Thursday. Set to make his fourth major league start, Wright, who was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati on Sept. 4, is 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in the big leagues this season.