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Richards snags Smoak's liner in the fourth

SEATTLE -- His name is Brandon Maurer. He grew up in Costa Mesa, Calif., wasn't drafted until the 23rd round in 2008, surprisingly earned a spot in the Mariners' rotation this spring -- and flat-out dominated the Angels on Thursday night.

Maurer, the 22-year-old right-hander who bypassed Triple-A and didn't even anchor his high school rotation, outpitched a very effective Garrett Richards at Safeco Field, notching 6 1/3 scoreless innings and handing the Angels a deflating, 6-0 defeat.

The Angels have now dropped back-to-back games, putting them at 8-13 and increasing their deficit of the first-place Rangers to 6 1/2 games in the American League West.

The man who put them there grew up 15 minutes from Anaheim, pitched at Angel Stadium while attending Orange Lutheran High School -- where he joined forces with 2011 first-overall pick Gerrit Cole (Pirates) -- and grew up rooting for the team he lulled to sleep in the opener of a four-game series.

"He's got great stuff; you can't take that away from him," Angels left fielder Mike Trout said. "He's 95 with a fastball, pretty hard with a slider, and he threw me a changeup and a sinker. So he's got four plus pitches. He worked in and out, kept us off balance and shut us down."

Richards limited the Mariners to two runs through the first six innings, but the Angels' offense hit into three double plays and couldn't produce anything off seven hits and a walk against Maurer.

Just when you think this star-studded lineup is beginning to find itself, it gives you a reason to believe otherwise.

"It's hit and miss right now," Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "It's kind of like you feed off each other. Guys aren't going, and there's nothing really there. We get a guy on, then we expect to have some success there, and then we either ground into a double play or something shuts it down. I think the biggest thing is just focusing on what you need to do every at-bat for the situation, whatever the game asks you to do, and things will start to turn around."

Maurer, the organization's Most Improved Player in 2012 after a successful season in Double-A, came in 1-3 with a 7.45 ERA, but had given up only five runs (four earned) in 12 2/3 innings his last two times out. His best trait is dominating opposing right-handed batters with his four-pitch mix, and the Angels' lineup -- with all right-handed hitters except Hamilton in the middle -- suited him perfectly.

"Well-known hitters, but you've still got to go out there and just throw what you throw," Maurer said. "You can't really look too much at the name on the back."

Richards, filling in for injured ace Jered Weaver and coming off throwing seven shutout innings against the Tigers, gave up a homer to Mariners right fielder Carlos Peguero and an RBI single to third baseman Kyle Seager in the third, giving Seattle a 2-0 lead.

Still down two in the top of the seventh, the Angels put only their second runner in scoring position, prompting Mariners skipper Eric Wedge to go to his bullpen. But Carter Capps got Chris Iannetta to ground into an inning-ending double play. And in the next half-inning, after Richards intentionally walked Peguero to load the bases with one out, Jason Bay smacked a two-run single to left that increased the Mariners' lead to four.

Richards was ultimately charged with five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out five -- but the numbers didn't tell the whole story.

"I thought Garrett pitched much better than his line score is going to show," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a chance to put some hitters away, wasn't able to do it early, but as far as him getting after it and the movement on his pitches, he was terrific. It didn't work out tonight in some areas, but I thought he pitched a strong game and kept us in it."

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