Saunders improves to 7-0 in last 10 starts against M's

SEATTLE -- Hideki Matsui's balance is back. And his timing couldn't be better for the surging Los Angeles Angels.

Matsui continued his emergence for his new team since slugger Kendry Morales broke his leg celebrating last week. He homered and drove in three runs, and Joe Saunders improved to 7-0 in his last 10 starts against Seattle as Los Angeles beat the Mariners 7-1 on Friday night.

"It's just balance and timing that has been better," Matsui said through his interpreter after his third three-RBI game of the season. Two have come against Seattle since Morales shattered his leg celebrating a winning slam against the Mariners on May 29.

Last season's World Series MVP with the Yankees followed his season high-tying three hits Thursday at Kansas City by golfing a two-strike slider from starter Ian Snell into the right-field bleachers in the second. That was after Snell (0-4) walked Torii Hunter.

It was Matsui's third home run in eight career at-bats against Snell.

"He owns me," Snell said.

He also owns the trust of the Angels to get them through life without Morales, who was leading them in home runs and RBIs until he was lost in a freak accident jumping onto the plate to celebrate.

Matsui nodded when asked if he became conscious of stepping up once Morales went down.

"Certainly his presence was important," Matsui said. "But it's not like I'm trying to do more than I wanted to do. It's not like I changed my approach."

It's all about results for the 35-year-old Matsui, who is 10 for 14 (.714) in his last four games. His average has climbed from .229 to .265 since Monday.

"It's a good sign," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's getting to be that guy in the important part of our order."

Saunders (4-6), who allowed seven runs on 10 hits against Seattle in a no-decision last weekend, permitted nine more baserunners in the first five innings this time. Saunders allowed eight hits and two walks but only one run in six innings.

Ichiro Suzuki had three singles, an RBI and his fourth stolen base in two nights, but Seattle hit three double plays behind him to doom its three-game winning streak.

Juan Rivera homered off Sean White in a three-run seventh, and the Angels won for the eighth time in 10 games to move above .500 for the first time since April 29.

Los Angeles won for the fourth time in five games on a 14-game road trip -- its longest trek in eight years.

Snell (0-4) allowed only three hits in five-plus innings, but two of his four walks scored.

Afterward, manager Don Wakamatsu said Snell wasn't providing the proper tempo in his start.

Snell wasn't thrilled with that assessment.

"He can say whatever he wants, because he's the manager," Snell said. "I pretty much have nothing else to say about my tempo. I'm working on it, and I'm trying my best, and that's all I can do is give my best.

"I'm human and I'm not Superman."

Seattle's Chad Cordero, who led the majors with 47 saves for Washington in 2005, completed his comeback from major shoulder surgery with his first appearance since April 29, 2008, when he was with the Nationals. He entered with one on in the seventh and allowed a double to Izturis and an RBI double to Howie Kendrick. He then struck out Bobby Abreu swinging at an 89 mph fastball.

"Coming off such a major surgery and having some people say I'll never be able to throw again, (this is) a big deal for me," he said. "Getting back on the mound and with all the hard work I had to go through and sometimes doubting myself as to whether I'd be back here again -- to actually be back here is something special."

Cordero arrived Thursday from Triple-A Tacoma to take the roster spot of the retired Ken Griffey Jr.

Game notes
The Mariners scratched RHP Doug Fister from his scheduled start on Saturday because of shoulder fatigue. Fister, second in the AL in ERA at 2.45 entering Friday, says he hasn't been told when he can resume throwing. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-4, 7.24 ERA), who lost his spot in the rotation last month, starts against Ervin Santana instead. ... Scioscia will miss the next two games while he attends the graduation his daughter Taylor from Louisville High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. Bench coach Ron Roenicke will manage in Scioscia's absence.