ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Aaron Harang has never beaten the Los Angeles Angels in his lengthy career. During his latest attempt, the Seattle right-hander could barely even slow them down — and he still did better than his bullpen on a rocky night for the Mariners.
Albert Pujols had an RBI double among his four hits, Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer, and Los Angeles pounded out a season-high 21 hits in an 11-3 victory Monday night.
Alberto Callaspo matched his career high with four hits, driving in two runs during the Angels' seven-run sixth inning. Peter Bourjos had three hits as Los Angeles battered Harang (3-7) and his relievers in its fourth victory in five games.
The Angels pounded out eight hits and four runs in the first two innings alone against Harang, who threw a two-hitter against Houston in his previous start. Harang nearly escaped the second inning, but a leaping Michael Saunders couldn't haul in Hamilton's drive over the wall despite getting a glove on it, and the Mariners never recovered.
"I've faced a lot of those guys over the last few years, and they know I'm going to be aggressive and try to throw strikes and get ahead early with my fastball," said Harang, who dropped to 0-4 with a 7.86 ERA in six career starts against the Halos. "After that second inning, we kind of had to flip things around and go with off-speed pitches early and try to get ahead with that."
None of it worked very well. Harang yielded 12 hits and four runs in five innings, keeping it a 4-2 game — but the Angels beat up on Seattle relievers Carter Capps and Charlie Furbush in the sixth.
"They have guys throughout their lineup that can run, and it changes the whole aspect of the game and changes the way you have to pitch to guys," Harang said.
Nick Franklin hit an early two-run homer for Seattle in the opener of a four-game AL West series. The Angels made it comfortable for Jason Vargas (6-4), who yielded four hits and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts in seven strong innings while beating his former teammates.
"They had quite a few hits in a short period of time, and (Harang) was fortunate to get out of there with just four runs," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
After Endy Chavez got the Mariners' first hit, Franklin connected for his third homer. But Vargas didn't allow another runner past first base, and the Angels put it out of reach while sending 12 batters to the plate in the sixth.
Seattle finished with seven hits, tacking on a run in the eighth on Kendrys Morales' RBI groundout.
"When you separate it all out, there's reason for optimism offensively, but it has to come together collectively," Wedge said.
Erick Aybar and Chris Iannetta had run-scoring singles for the Angels during the sixth, and they both scored on Franklin's throwing error on Trout's bases-loaded grounder.
"You definitely don't want to take the runs for granted," said Vargas, acquired from Seattle in an offseason trade. "We know we're definitely capable of putting up some offense every night. This was a carry-over from what we did in the ninth inning (Sunday)."
Indeed, the Angels picked up right where they left off with a five-run rally that fell just short in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees. Pujols, who struck out with the bases loaded to end it, had hits in his first four at-bats against Seattle.
Howie Kendrick and Mike Trout drove in early runs as the Angels got a hit from all nine spots in their big-budget lineup for their biggest hit total since August 2009. Los Angeles has 67 hits and 36 runs in its last five games after its first 20-hit performance in a nine-inning game since 2008.
"I don't know if we're going to get it every night, but 21 hits is a good breakout game for us coming off a good ninth inning Sunday," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Trout also scored his 200th career run in the sixth, reaching the milestone in just 249 games — the quickest major leaguer to the mark since 1940. Only seven players since 1916 reached 200 runs more quickly than last season's AL Rookie of the Year, and five of those players are in the Hall of Fame, including Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Lloyd Waner.
NOTES: Seattle RF Jason Bay sat out the series opener with a sore hamstring. The veteran outfielder's leg tightened up during Sunday's game in Oakland. ... Vargas improved to 8-2 in his career at the Big A, his best winning percentage at any ballpark where he's made at least three starts. ... Aybar, the Angels' former Gold Glove shortstop, booted a routine grounder in the second inning for Los Angeles' MLB-worst 54th error. The Angels have committed an error in 10 straight games.