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Despite beating Mariners, Angels eliminated from contention

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Associated Press
10/2/2012 2:36:50 AM
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SEATTLE -- The Los Angeles Angels just couldn't dig themselves out of an early season hole.

The Angels, with a high payroll and high expectations as the season started, were eliminated from the wild-card race after the Oakland Athletics' 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

"Our expectations are higher than even the fans, media, anyone," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who talked to the team for 20 minutes after an 8-4 victory over Seattle on Monday night. "We're disappointed."

The Angels, carrying the fourth-highest payroll in the majors, had signed first baseman Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million deal during the off-season and then added left-hander C.J. Wilson for another $77.5 million. Those aggressive free-agent moves could earn the Angels (89-71) 90 victories but no post-season, even with one additional wild-card spot.

Pujols didn't have a home run in April as the Angels went 8-15 and were nine games out by May.

"We set ourselves back early in the year and never quite got back to the position we wanted to be. We paid a price for it," Scioscia said. "You can't cut out parts of the season and say we did this or we did that. The test of the season is 162 games. For 120 games-plus, we played great baseball."

The Angels put on a final rush by going 27-11 since Aug. 21, the best record in baseball. But they had too many games and teams to overcome.

"That's why you play 162 games," Pujols said. "We played pretty well in the second half. Other teams played a little better than us. They deserve to make it, too."

Pujols now has 50 and 30 home runs for the third straight season, the first big leaguer ever to do that.

Wilson (13-10) went 6 1-3 innings for the victory. He allowed six hits and two runs, striking out seven and walking five.

"You look at so many wins (89) then say it's a failed situation," said Wilson, who said he pitched through painful bone spurs for the past two months. "Obviously, we have to put blame on ourselves. When you're counting on other teams down the stretch it's not a good position to be in."

Pujols added that even with all the money spent on talent "that doesn't win championships. You still have to go out there and perform."

Felix Hernandez (13-9), who did not win a game after Aug. 27 -- going 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA -- went 5 1-3 innings, allowing a season-high 12 hits and seven runs. He struck out seven and walked three.

"They laid off some tough pitches and hit a couple good pitches and they hit a couple mistakes," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "They did a nice job against him tonight."

The Angels jumped on Hernandez for three runs in the first inning. Mike Trout, a home run shy of the cycle, doubled into the right-centre gap. With one out, Pujols doubled high off the wall in centre to drive in Trout.

With two outs, Alberto Callaspo walked. Mark Trumbo's single to left scored Pujols. Howie Kendrick, who also had four hits, singled to score Callaspo.

Casper Wells got one back in the bottom of the inning with his ninth home run on a 1-0 pitch from Wilson.

Trout's RBI single in the fourth scored Maicer Izturis from second.

Trout drove in two more runs in the sixth with a triple and came home on Torii Hunter's single to left.

Trout is the first rookie to have five 4-hit games since Troy Tulowitzki in 2007. He scored his 129th run, third most by a rookie behind Joe DiMaggio (132) and Ted Williams (131).

"He's one of the best young hitter I've ever seen, arguably one of the best young player of all-time," Wedge said of Trout. "He is short to the ball with a lot of power and strength, the quickness he has out of the box and basepaths, the way he is able to track the ball down along with a pretty good arm and very athletic. He is an unbelievable young baseball player right now."

Justin Smoak, hitting .404 since Sept. 13, doubled in Wells in the Mariners' three-run seventh. Trayvon Robinson had a RBI single and another run scored on second baseman Kendrick's error.

Hernandez was trying for his third career sub-3.00 ERA season but the Angels' sixth-inning, three-spot was enough to push the number to 3.03.

He finished with 223 strikeouts, currently third-highest in the AL and second-most in his career. It's his fourth straight season with 200-plus strikeouts.

Notes: If Scioscia had an MVP vote he would no doubt pick Trout. Asked about the race he said, "for the top two, three guys there's an incredible amount of evidence for anyone in that conversation to win. That's the case this year." He added that Trout "has the ability to do what he's doing this year for a long time." ... Mariners CF Franklin Gutierrez is finishing the season the way he began, injured. Gutierrez, limited to 92 games last year because of stomach and oblique issues, has played in just 40 games this year because of a concussion, stomach and now groin issues. "If he has a chance to play another game, then we'll get him in there,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "If it doesn't make any sense, then we won't."

Mike Trout  (Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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