ANAHEIM, Calif. — Just when Mariners lefty Wade Miley appeared headed for another quick and disappointing exit Sunday, the tumblers finally clicked into place.
Miley rebounded from a three-run first inning by pitching into the eighth with little further damage before the bullpen closed out a 9-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.
"I just tried to stop thinking a little bit," he said. "Just try to get it going…I was finally able to establish something, get in a rhythm and go."
The victory pulled the Mariners back to .500 at 9-9 and completed a 6-3 road trip that included 2-1 series victories at New York and Cleveland in addition to Anaheim.
"You go on the road, and you win every series," third baseman Kyle Seager said, "that’s pretty good. We played some pretty good teams as well. It was definitely a pretty good road trip.
"Everybody is looking forward to getting home."
Seager’s three-run homer in a four-run first inning provided Miley (1-2) with a quick cushion in the first inning, but Miley nearly gave it all back in the bottom of the inning.
The Mariners regained control by knocking out LA starter Matt Shoemaker (1-3) in a three-run fourth inning, which included a two-run homer from Leonys Martin.
By then Miley was rolling. He permitted just two hits after the first inning before yielding a one-out homer to Yunel Escobar in the eighth. Nick Vincent replaced Miley at that point and got the final five outs.
Seth Smith’s two-run homer in the ninth meant the Mariners didn’t need closer Steve Cishek, who had been warming up. Vincent got his second career save — his first since June 12, 2013 while pitching for San Diego.
"It was fun," manager Scott Servais said. "We played really good baseball (on this road trip). This is kind of what we envisioned coming out of camp."
Nori Aoki opened the game with a walk and went to third on Smith’s single. Robinson Cano flied out, but Nelson Cruz grounded an RBI single to short, and Smith went to third on a throwing error by Andrelton Simmons.
Shoemaker struck out Adam Lind, but Seager rocked a 2-0 pitch into the right-field seats for a three-run homer.
"I felt I put much better swings on the ball," said Seager, who took extra pre-game work with hitting coach Edgar Martinez in an effort to break out from his .127 average.
"I was able to control my body a lot better today. I got a lot of work in with Edgar. We saw some stuff on film. I was able to clean everything up a little bit."
Up four runs, Miley responded by letting the Angels back into the game despite retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the inning.
Mike Trout pulled a two-out single through the left side, and Albert Pujols followed by breaking a career-worst 0-for-26 drought with a 448-foot bomb to left for a two-run homer.
Miley then walked Kole Calhoun, who scored on Geovany Soto’s line-drive double into the right-center gap. With the lead down to one, Miley retired Simmons on a grounder to short.
"I wasn’t thinking, `Here we go again,’ by any means," said Miley who entered with a 8.04 ERA. "I was just like, `I’ve got to execute pitches.’ When I’ve got a guy with two strikes, I’ve got to make a better pitch.
"I can’t throw a fastball down the middle and not expect a guy like Pujols to make you pay. I was getting frustrated with myself for just not executing."
The Mariners pushed the lead back to four runs in the fourth inning.
"We played (on this road trip) like we should have been playing," Seager said. "I think there’s still more in the tank. Today, we did it offensively, but this is a team that should be able to win a lot of different ways."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Leonys Martin lost the ball when running from first base in the ninth inning on a 1-1 pitch to Ketel Marte, who popped the ball into short center.
The Angels believed they tricked Martin into indecision through some dekes by their middle infielders.
"It was a group effort," LA shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. "Lot of people involved. (Yunel) Escobar was part of it, he was yelling a lot of stuff, Cliff (Pennington) was yelling, I was yelling.
"A lot of guys were doing a lot of noise. He didn’t know where to look."
Martin said the Angels had nothing to do with it.
"I have to look at home plate," he said. "I didn’t look at home plate. I made a mistake. I didn’t look to home plate."
All that matters is Martin remained at second base, which turned into an easy double play when center fielder Mike Trout threw to first.
"We’ve got to tighten that up," manager Scott Servais said. "(Martin) was running. He’s on his own. He had a steal on. The ball was put in play. He just didn’t pick it up."
PLUS: Designated hitter Nelson Cruz went 2-for-4 with an RBI, which capped a nine-game trip in which he was 12-for-35 (.343) with two homers, three doubles and eight RBIs…shortstop Ketel Marte had two more hits. He is 6-for-17 with hits in each of his last four games…Adam Lind didn’t get thrown out at second by trying to stretch a single into a double for the first time in three games…reliever Nick Vincent retired all five hitters faced after replacing starter Wade Miley.
MINUS: Robinson Cano was hitless in five at-bats…Lind was hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts after going 12-for-29 (.414) in his previous nine games.
STAT PACK: Albert Pujols’ homer in the first inning was the 563rd of his career, which tied him with Reggie Jackson for 13th on the all-time list…
QUOTABLE: Manager Scott Servais on Wade Miley’s recovery after a three-run first inning: "It hasn’t been going good for him and, after that first inning, he could have put his head down and felt sorry for himself. But he didn’t. He made adjustments and kept us right in the game."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners are just one-half game out of first place in the American League West Division…Wade Miley has won his last seven decisions in day games and is 7-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 14 career games against AL West clubs…the Mariners are 9-9 with victories belonging to nine different pitchers…the Mariners have won their first four road series for the first time since 2001, when they won their first seven…the Mariners are 7-0 when they score at least four runs.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners