June 22, 2012 in Sports

Padres take series opener from Mariners

Larry Stone Seattle Times
 
Lenny Ignelzi photo

San Diego Padres pitcher Clayton Richard follows through on a double to right against the Seattle Mariners during the Padres’ five-run fourth inning.
(Full-size photo)

SAN DIEGO – The Seattle Mariners’ offensive road show powered forward on Friday at cavernous Petco Park, as the team banged two more home runs away from Safeco Field.

But the Padres won this battle of the bats, led by the unlikeliest of sluggers – pitcher Clayton Richard, normally a semi-automatic out but a force against Kevin Millwood.

In leading San Diego to the 9-5 victory, Richard drove in three runs with a double and single as the Padres – bringing in the worst record in baseball – won their fourth straight over Seattle this season.

Richard entered the game as a career .109 hitter, but was doing even worse this year: .040 (1 for 25, with 17 strikeouts).

While the Mariners were continuing their seasonlong pattern of raking on the road after hibernating at home, their defense let them down. Kyle Seager committed two errors, leading to three unearned runs. This game was not one to use as a Little League clinic – the Padres also had two errors, leading to two unearned runs.

But it was Millwood’s inability to get out Richard that did him in, after the Mariners had staked him to a 4-0 lead. That came largely on the strength of a two-run homer by Franklin Gutierrez in the first inning, and a solo shot by Miguel Olivo in the second.

That gave the Mariners 50 homers on the road this season, more than any other team in the majors. Granted, they’ve played five more road games than any other team, but it’s still a remarkable total for a team that had just 52 home runs on the road last year in 78 games (and has hit just 17 in 31 games at home, ranking 27th in the majors).

The Padres began chipping away at Millwood with two runs in the third, a rally that began when Seager couldn’t field a hard grounder by Nick Hundley. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Richard, to third on Will Venable’s single, and scored on a ground out by Cameron Maybin. A two-out single by Chase Headley brought in another run.

The Padres did their real damage in the fourth, batting around to score five off Millwood. Millwood hit Yonder Alonso to start things off, and Logan Forsythe singled. Everth Cabrera doubled in a run, but after a strikeout, Richard was the unexpected catalyst. He laced a double into right to score two, then came around to score on a Venable single.

In the fifth, with Forsythe on second with two outs after a double, the Mariners elected to walk Hundley intentionally to get to Richard. He lined a single to left-center to bring in another run.

The Mariners got one run back in the fifth on a throwing error by Headley to bring in Gutierrez, who had reached on the third of his four hits of the game. Gutierrez has four homers at Petco in just 10 games. The ballpark ranks 29th in the majors in terms of home-run rate, ahead of only Safeco Field.

San Diego added one final run in the eighth off reliever Oliver Perez on a double by Venable, a bunt single by Maybin, and Headley’s sacrifice fly.

The Mariners had nine hits – three by leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki, and four by No. 2 hitter Gutierrez, who raised his average from .190 to .308.


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