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SEA@LAA: Felix strikes out nine over six innings

Now the Angels need everything to go right.

They head into their final series of the season, a three-game set in Seattle that starts on Monday, at 88-71 and three games back of the A's for a Wild Card spot. Oakland (91-68) has three games against the Rangers. One A's win or an Angels loss, and the Angels are done.

"We needed to get that second game, obviously, to keep pace and keep ourselves in a little better position than we are right now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the Halos split a doubleheader with the Rangers on Sunday, losing 8-7 in the nightcap. "But these guys played their hearts out. I don't know if you can ask much more of what they did. Unfortunately, we didn't get the second game. Get up there tomorrow and have a good game in Seattle."

And if somehow the Angels win out and the A's are swept by Texas, there's a team in Tampa that could complicate things. The Rays, who have the same record as the Angels, are playing the Orioles, and are still mathematically alive, too.

But the Angels know there is still some chance for them, however small.

"I think if you play this many games throughout the year, and dedicate this much time, there's really no point to not at least seeing it through," Mark Trumbo said.

"It's going to be tight," Torii Hunter said. "We have to go out there and worry about the game against Seattle, maybe Texas takes care of business out there [against the A's]. We'll just worry about what we need to worry about, and hopefully these guys do what they gotta do."

The Angels' first task isn't an easy one: Beating Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who's up against left-hander C.J. Wilson for a second straight start.

Both pitchers threw just fine in a 4-3 win for the Angels on Wednesday in Anaheim. Hernandez gave up two runs in six innings, Wilson gave up three in 5 1/3, and both took a no-decision.

The start prior to Wednesday's, Wilson's second-to-last, lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the Rangers. Even though he wasn't excellent Wednesday, he was still improved.

"Not to be too comical about it, but it's not too hard to step forward," said Wilson, who's 12-10 with a 3.86 ERA. "But tonight was better. Came out with a lot of strikes early, and then started getting a little bit inconsistent with my release point in the third inning, and then got it back after that. I feel pretty good, overall, about it, and I felt like my breaking balls were better than they have been in my other games."

A little better run support would have Hernandez's record looking better than 13-8 with a 2.86 ERA. In 11 no-decisions, he's posted a 2.45 ERA.

Septembers have been a problem for Hernandez: he put up a 5.18 ERA in the month last season, and this year he's at 5.70. Still, he said he's feeling sturdy because of his offseason workout program.

"I feel way better," Hernandez said Sunday. "I feel strong. I still feel good. You work hard, it's going to pay off. I just want to finish strong, have a good performance and go into the offseason and be able to relax."

"He was as strong as he's been all year [in his last start]," M's manager Eric Wedge said. "I loved his fastball, and liked the end on his pitches. We want him to finish strong and feel good when he's done."

Angels: Aybar leaves hurt Sunday night
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar exited Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader in the second inning with a strained right quad. He is day to day.

Mariners: Gutierrez strains groin
Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez came out of Sunday's game against the A's in the bottom of the third inning after feeling tightness in his left groin. He had already doubled twice in the game.

Gutierrez has been hampered by injuries all season. Sunday was just his 40th game of the season.

Worth noting
• The Mariners have been successful in 26 of their last 32 stolen-base attempts, or 81.3 percent. Entering Sunday, that was the Majors' second-highest percentage since Aug. 14.

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