SEATTLE -- After returning to Safeco Field on Friday from a road trip that produced a losing record, the Mariners found none of the comforts that they enjoyed in their two previous homestands.
The Mariners fell behind out of the gate and never could claw their way back in, falling to the Angels, 9-1, in front of 17,739. The Mariners had entered Friday winning 15 of their last 16 at Safeco, the best 16-game home stretch in club history.
The troubles began with starter Kevin Millwood, as he labored through a three-run first inning, throwing 29 pitches.
After recording an out, a single by Torii Hunter and walk to Albert Pujols put two aboard. Kendrys Morales followed with a long three-run home run over the wall in right-center field.
"I wasn't very good from the first pitch," Millwood said. "Nothing was really working. Wasn't locating the ball, and it showed.
"This is first time I felt it was as much a struggle as it was. They've got a very good team and definitely wouldn't take anything away from them, but there wasn't really anything I was trying to do that I was able to do."
Things didn't improve for Millwood, as he gave up another run in the second after getting two quick outs -- although it was hardly his fault. A throwing error by Kyle Seager put Mike Trout aboard before Hunter and Pujols hit infield singles, both of which were mishandled by the fielders. Trout scored on the Pujols hit to take back a run the Mariners scored in the first, and the Angels increased their lead to 4-1.
"We talk about trying to get the games on our terms, and part of that is trying to set it up on the defensive end, give our offense a chance to go -- we got started early tonight again -- and then keep pushing the action on the offensive side," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We matched up some good offensive baseball with a great effort from [starter Dan Haren]. It's a great way to go."
Millwood, who also gave up a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Morales, didn't retire the Angels in order once, barely getting through five innings on 117 pitches. The right-hander allowed five runs, four earned, on nine hits, walking four and striking out just one.
"Kevin just didn't have it tonight," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He battled. He saved our bullpen by giving us five innings and he had to work so hard for it, but that's just the type of competitor he is. For him to be able to go out there and get us through that fifth inning, every out meant something to us in regard to keeping our bullpen in good shape."
Meanwhile, the offense managed very little. The only run the Mariners plated came in the first when Franklin Gutierrez singled with one out and moved to third on a wild pickoff move by Haren. He scored with two outs when John Jaso singled through the right side. But even then, Seattle still faced a 3-1 deficit.
The Mariners managed just three hits against Haren after the initial frame, as he settled down following a 28-pitch first to go seven innings without allowing an earned run.
The righty got extra support later in the game, as the Angels scored four runs off the Mariners bullpen, including three in the ninth. The Seattle bullpen entered the game with a 3.28 ERA, the third lowest in club history, but allowed four runs on six hits and a walk.
"We just didn't have a good day as a ballclub," Wedge said. "Just one of those days. We play this many games, every now and again you're going to have a tough one. We just didn't have it today."
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.