SEATTLE — In early April, Chris Herrmann was a free-agent catcher sitting on his couch at home wondering if he was going to play baseball again.
Now he is. And the Mariners are glad they found him.
Herrmann hit his first home run for Seattle, and Marco Gonzales pitched six solid innings to lead the Mariners to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Gonzales (9-5) gave up five hits while striking out seven in a 102-pitching outing. The lone run he gave up was Kole Calhoun's sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1.
Considering how rough a first inning the left-hander had, Gonzales gladly took the outcome.
"It was a constant chess game," Gonzales said.
He had no control over his sinker. His changeup wasn't getting over the plate. And he was working with a catcher in Herrmann — called up from the minors in late-May — with whom he had no familiarity.
But after regular catcher Mike Zunino was placed on the 10-day disabled list Thursday with a bruised left foot, it was up to Herrmann and Gonzales to figure things out.
"In that first inning, (Gonzales) did not have it. He really didn't," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I've been around a long time, and you see pitchers with six-to-seven years' experience in this league that panic. They don't have it, and they throw in the towel.
"It says a lot about his maturity and where he's at."
Gonzales escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first by getting Albert Pujols to ground into a double play.
"Give Gonzales some credit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He made some pitches and got out of it."
In the fifth, Guillermo Heredia's line drive went over Justin Upton's head in left field for an RBI double gave Seattle the lead back at 2-1.
In the seventh inning, Herrmann's solo blast off reliever Miguel Almonte carried deep into the right-field bleachers. Not a bad ending for a guy who did not find out he was in the starting lineup until five hours before first pitch.
"I know a lot of pitchers here have a lot of confidence behind Mike behind the plate, and I hope I can gain that confidence from these guys as well," said Herrmann, who was signed by the Mariners to a minor league deal in early April after being designated for assignment by Arizona at the end of spring training. "I am trying to do my part and fill in while he is gone."
Dee Gordon tripled into the right-field corner with two outs, and Jean Segura greeted reliever Cam Bedrosian with a high-chopping RBI single to third baseman David Fletcher to extend Seattle's lead to 4-1.
Gordon also saved a run in the eighth with his highlight-reel diving catch of Ian Kinsler's line drive behind second base.
"It was just instincts. I just jumped as far as I could," Gordon said.
Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth to lock up his major league-leading 34th save.
The Mariners have not lost a home series since May 6, when they dropped two of three games to the Angels. They are 6-0-3 during that span.
Angels starter Jaime Barria (5-5) gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings.
HERNANDEZ BACK 'BETTER'
Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez insists he feels much better before his scheduled start Friday against Colorado than he did nearly a week ago.
Hernandez tweaked his back during a workout in Baltimore. It tightened on him before his start Saturday against Kansas City - one in which he surrendered three earned runs before recording an out in a 6-4 victory. With the help of heat and ice packs, and more stretching, Hernandez's back has felt better this week. He even threw an abbreviated bullpen session.
"I am better today, more loose," Hernandez said. "I will be fine."
What did Japanese star Shohei Ohtani get on the day of his 24th birthday Thursday in Seattle? He got a seat on the bench against Gonzales, a left-hander. With Albert Pujols serving as the designated hitter, Jefry Marte got the start at first base after being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the day.
Ohtani struck out in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter against Diaz.
Angels: To make room for Marte, the Angels sent outfielder Jabari Blash to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Mariners: Left-handed pitcher Ariel Miranda, who started 29 games last season, was granted his unconditional release from Triple-A Tacoma to pursue playing opportunities in Japan.
Angels: Outfielder Chris Young (left hamstring) had an MRI test on his hamstring Thursday. Results weren't revealed, but he is still expected to be out past the All-Star Break. ... Right-hander Nick Tropeano (right shoulder) will pitch Saturday as part of a rehab assignment. He will be limited to 60 pitches, Scioscia said. ... Right-hander Jim Johnson (back) threw a bullpen session and is approaching a rehab assignment as well.
Mariners: Zunino (left ankle) was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised left foot. He rolled his ankle late in Seattle's 7-4 loss Wednesday running the basepaths and was walking around in a boot in the clubhouse Thursday. David Freitas was recalled from Tacoma to serve as the backup catcher behind Herrmann. ... Outfielder Mitch Haniger was scratched from the starting lineup because of a bruised right knee. Heredia took his place.
Rockies: Right-hander German Marquez (6-8, 5.14 ERA) faces off against one of his famous Venezuelan countrymen in Hernandez. He has never faced the Mariners, but is 2-0 in interleague play.
Mariners: Hernandez (8-6, 5.11 ERA) is one of 11 pitchers to win at least 23 games against NL squads, including the Rockies, whom he beat in August 2015 in Colorado (6 2/3 IP, 4 ER) in his only career start against them.