Ibanez roughs up Weaver, leads Mariners past Angels

SEATTLE (AP) -- There wasn't any Mariners talk of making statements to the rival Angels. No, that came in spring training.

Yet this wasn't any other April game for the would-be upstarts, not after Raul Ibanez hit two home runs off previously stingy Angels starter Jered Weaver to lift Felix Hernandez and Seattle over Los Angeles 8-5 Friday night in the season's first game between the AL West rivals.

"We needed this win," said Mariners manager John McLaren, who raised L.A. eyebrows last month by saying he wanted to win a spring training game to tell the Angels this is now a new, wilder West.

Seattle was coming off a worrisome, 2-5 road trip through Baltimore and Tampa Bay. And yes the team Seattle, without a playoff berth since 2001, is trying to unseat for the division title is in town.

"No one has to tell us who the Angels are and what they've done," McLaren said. "They are the team to beat."

Richie Sexson agreed these were more than your usual, forgettable April games. He knows Seattle was 6-13 against the Angels last season while finishing six games behind them.

"It is L.A. There is a little more energy," Sexson said. "You never know, you win a few games now and down the road maybe they think, 'Well, hey, it's going to be tough with these guys.'

"If we can put a little doubt in their minds ... "

Then again, as Ibanez said after his three RBIs, "It's just one game."

The struggling Sexson, 0-for-11 against Weaver, found a new way to beat him and end hometown boos -- with a bases-loaded walk on a high fastball in sixth that forced in the tying run.

"That was a good pitch. The guy's 6-11, or whatever," Weaver said of the 6-foot-8 slugger. "[The umpire, Fieldin Culbreth] called a couple up there for me and decided not to call that one."

Ibanez hit Weaver's not-so-good fastball nearly over the right-field bleachers in the first inning to give Seattle the early lead.

After Jeff Mathis' first home run of the season tied the game at 1 in the third -- Hernandez's first earned run allowed in 17 innings -- Ibanez tagged a changeup from Weaver. This one landed lower into the same bleachers as his previous homer to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.

Ibanez is now 12-for-21 (.571) with four homers against Weaver.

"He's a very good pitcher. Been a little lucky, I guess," Ibanez said.

He added a double off Darren Oliver in the seventh for an insurance run that made it 6-4.

The Angels' bullpen, without closer Francisco Rodriguez since he sprained his ankle Monday, gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings and has a 7.27 ERA this season -- the worst in baseball.

"Our bullpen, right now, we're trying to get settled down," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, hoping Rodriguez will return this weekend.

Hernandez (1-0) allowed nine hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out a season-high seven and walked three.

After Kenji Johjima broke an 0-for-23 funk with an RBI double and Yuniesky Betancourt had an RBI double to make it 8-5 in the eighth, fill-in closer Mark Lowe finished ninth for his first career save.

Lowe, who's had two surgeries to correct a defect in his pitching elbow in the last 20 months, kept the ball lodged tightly in his glove inside his locker afterward.

He also got a shaving-cream pie in the face from injured closer J.J. Putz to commemorate the milestone.

"No wonder he likes this job," Lowe said, grinning through white foam. "The adrenaline -- it's just a huge rush."

Seattle has had its own bullpen woes since All-Star Putz went out April 1 with a ribcage injury. Entering Friday, the ERA for Mariners relievers was better only than Los Angeles. But Friday, Sean Green and Lowe allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings.

Seattle's only hits in the first 5 1/3 innings off Weaver (1-2) were Ibanez's home runs. But Weaver got only one more out. After his bases-loaded walk to Sexson, new right fielder Brad Wilkerson, 3-for-26 at that point, golfed a single to give the Mariners the lead for good, 5-3. That doubled Wilkerson's RBI total for the season.

Hernandez ran out past the top step of the dugout to celebrate Wilkerson's hit.

"Oh, yeah," Hernandez said, smiling broadly. "That was a good win for us."

Game notes
The Mariners won for just the ninth time in 30 games against the Angels. ... Angles 3B Chone Figgins reached base four times, three on walks. He has reached 27 times in 11 games. ... Seattle purchased the contract of veteran pinch-hitter Greg Norton and designated OF Charlton Jimerson for assignment.