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LAA@SEA: Haren hurls eight innings of one-run ball

SEATTLE -- The hits keep on coming for the Angels -- and not the ones that score runs.

The Angels' bad luck and underperforming offense continued Thursday afternoon against the Mariners under a bright blue sky at Safeco Field, where an excruciating and baffling game-ending sun-obscured single that dropped in front of Torii Hunter led to a 2-1 loss before 18,374, the team's fifth consecutive defeat.

After Angels starter Dan Haren departed the game in a 1-1 tie following eight strong innings that lowered his season ERA to 1.84, the Mariners got a runner on third base with two out and rookie outfielder Carlos Peguero at the plate against Angels lefty Scott Downs.

Peguero lofted a lazy fly ball to center field, where nine-time Gold Glover Hunter awaited.

Hunter ran toward it, circled it, camped under it. He looked up. He shielded his eyes with his glove.

He watched helplessly as the ball, and the game, dropped onto the green outfield grass, sending the crowd home happy and the Angels to their seventh defeat in their last eight games and a record of 22-23. It's the first time they've been under the .500 mark since they were 3-4 on April 8.

"I saw it off the bat and ran after it, and when it got to its highest point, I didn't see it anymore," Hunter said. "I just battled, tried to fight it, stayed in there as long as I could, put my glove where I thought it would fall into it, and I just couldn't see it.

"You can't catch what you can't see."

And you can't win if you can't hit.

The Angels once again struggled at the plate all afternoon against Seattle starter Doug Fister, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, leaving six men on base, and only scoring in the top of the fourth when Howard Kendrick hit a solo home run over the scoreboard into the left-field bleachers.

Hunter went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and saw his season batting average sink to .218. He is 1-for-24 on this road trip and in a 5-for-40 (.125) skid in his last 11 games.

"Seven weeks of hell for me, and it's not fun at all," Hunter said of the season so far. "A bad week for all of us, a bad seven weeks for me. You can blame me for some of the losses we've been having. It's terrible. I need to be doing my job a little better."

Hunter, playing his first game in center field all year in place of slumping Peter Bourjos, actually did his job in the field earlier in the game. He went back on a deep fly ball by Peguero in the seventh inning and snagged it on the warning track right in front of the 405-foot sign on the wall -- a highlight-reel play on any other day.

He chose not to talk about that play after the game because he said it didn't matter.

"I lost the game," he said.

For the Mariners, who lost a game in similar fashion in Boston earlier this year when Ichiro Suzuki couldn't catch a sun ball off the bat of Jed Lowrie, it was a change of luck at the Angels' expense.

"I like the way Peguero swung on his previous AB," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He had the opportunity to step up and have a good at-bat. The baseball gods were looking down on us."

Said Peguero: "I just try to put the ball in play and see what happens. A good something happened."

Not much good is happening for the Angels right now, a feeling compounded by the ninth-inning exit of Kendrick, who had three of the Angels' seven hits and is batting .322 this year.

Manger Mike Scioscia said Kendrick felt cramping in his right hamstring early in the game and didn't think much of it, but felt it more while getting caught stealing second base in the ninth. He left the game for precautionary reasons, and Scioscia said that Kendrick would be re-evaluated before Friday's home game against Atlanta.

And then there's the overall state of the offense, which could undergo a few more changes if things don't improve soon.

Kendrick's homer snapped a 24-inning scoreless streak, but the Angels have scored only one run in their last 30 innings.

"This is one of the toughest spells I think we've all seen with situational hitting, with hitting with runners in scoring position, with moving runners over," Scioscia said. "It takes nine guys for an offense. It's not going to be on two or three guys.

"We're just missing in some of those areas. We have a talented club and we're obviously not bringing it the way we need to, and we're going to look at it closely."

On this day, as has been the case on many other days he's pitched, Haren was good enough to win and didn't. In fact, he's winless in his last six starts despite posting a 2.35 ERA. He has left the game tied or with the lead in eight of his last 10 starts.

"Of course I want to be winning games," Haren said. "I'm not going to stand here and say that winning doesn't matter. But the team winning is the No. 1 priority. Pitching good and the team losing -- you don't get anything good from it.

"Yeah, I'm frustrated, but everybody's frustrated. There's different levels of frustration for everyone, and I'm just one of 25."

Hunter is another very prominent one, and he took this loss hard.

"There's no such thing as a new rock bottom," Hunter said. "The bottom is the bottom. We were at rock bottom when we lost 14 to zip in Oakland [on Tuesday].

"We just so happened to stay there for a minute and rub in the dirt. We just need to climb out of it, that's all. It's a little slippery right now."

Meanwhile, Scioscia, who lives and spends the majority of his time in Southern California, saw a rare two hours of perfect Pacific Northwest spring weather turn ugly with one ill-timed crack of the bat.

"It started out like a beautiful day," Scioscia said.

"I wasn't real fond of the weather at the end." Comments