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Albert Pujols provides the only punch as Angels fall to Seattle 5-1

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SEATTLE - During their surge to get back near the top of the AL West, hitting has not been the problem for the Los Angeles Angels.

It made their struggles at the plate on Monday against Seattle's Chris Young even more baffling.

"He just put the ball into some grey areas and we didn't square it up very well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Young pitched shutout ball until Albert Pujols homered in the seventh inning, Robinson Cano had three hits and two RBIs to raise his average to .332, and the Mariners beat the Angels 5-1.

Los Angeles is 20-12 over its past 32 games in moving into second place in the division. Only twice during that stretch have the Angels been held to one run or less, including the gem tossed by Young.

Young (4-2) kept the Angels without a hit until Kole Calhoun's single with one out in the sixth inning. An inning later, Pujols hit his 506th career home run, pulling within three of Gary Sheffield for 24th on baseball's all-time homer list.

Young lasted only two more batters after Pujols' homer, getting pulled after issuing a walk to Raul Ibanez. He struck out five and walked three.

But Young's strong pitching at Safeco Field continued. In four starts at home this season, Young is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA.

The three total hits for the Angels were tied for their fewest in any game this season. They were also held to three hits by the Mariners on April 2.

"He did a good job changing eye level, changing planes and being deceptive," Angels catcher Hank Conger said. "He played his slider very well off his fastball which made him very effective today."

After manager Lloyd McClendon lamented Seattle's production following losses over the weekend to Houston, the Mariners responded with five runs in the first two innings off Tyler Skaggs (4-2). Seattle scored three unearned runs with two outs in the second.

"That's just part of the game sometimes where you take advantage of a pitch over the plate," Cano said. "Sometimes there are games where they throw you that same pitch and you foul it off. ... We took advantage and that's what we want. Those are the little things you want to do."

The top three hitters in Seattle's order did the damage against Skaggs. James Jones scored twice, and Michael Saunders tripled, singled and scored two runs.

Cano singled in each of his first three at-bats a day after his streak of reaching base ended at 31 games. Skaggs didn't help himself by throwing to the wrong player covering first base on Saunders' bunt single in the first inning. Seattle also stole three bases in the second on Skaggs.

"After the second inning I started working down in the zone," Skaggs said. "The biggest thing was starting to throw first pitch strikes. That is huge. Getting behind the count is never good to anybody."

Skaggs wasn't helped by his defence in the second inning when shortstop Erick Aybar couldn't handle Jones' one-hopper with two outs. The miscue allowed Dustin Ackley to score and opened the door for two more runs on Saunders' triple and Cano's infield single.

What Skaggs did well was save the Angels bullpen. Despite getting knocked around early, Skaggs made it through seven innings, striking out eight.

"Tyler understood keeping us in the game," Scioscia said. "He made pitches, got on a great streak and pitched seven innings. But the damage was done early."

NOTES: Angels OF Josh Hamilton has a bone bruise on his left thumb, unrelated to the surgery to repair ligament damage in the thumb earlier this season. Scioscia said Hamilton is day-to-day. ... Angels dropped to 1-5 vs. Seattle this season. ... Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker (shoulder) is scheduled to make his first rehab start on Wednesday at Tacoma.

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