Seattle Mariners’ opponents suddenly have another power threat to worry about.
Rookie Jose Cruz Jr. drove in a season-high five runs with a pair of homers, leading the Mariners over the San Francisco Giants 15-4 Tuesday.
Cruz, the third pick overall in the 1995 amateur draft, has eight homers in 26 games since he was brought up from the minors May 31. He went 3 for 5 and raised his RBI total to 19.
“I’ve had ups and downs so far,” said Cruz, batting .255 during his monthlong stay in Seattle. “I guess that’s part of it. I knew there was going to be some stumbles and some bumps. I guess it’ll be a matter of time for everything.”
Cruz, 23, has become an instant favorite among his teammates.
“I think he’s going to have plenty of time in the big leagues, no doubt about it,” Jay Buhner said. “The kid’s done a hell of a job for us. He’s doing some damage.”
Cruz was a three-time All-American at Rice.
“We knew he had some pop. We saw some of that in the spring,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said. “It’s not surprising to us at all that he can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer and Russ Davis added a two-run shot for the Seattle, which has homered four or more times in eight games this season.
“They beat us up pretty good,” Giants manager Dusty Baker said. “I was hoping we could get out of here without those big bats exploding. You can’t make too many mistakes against them.”
An enthusiastic crowd of 48,313 turned out for the day game, and the Mariners won for the first time in four games against the Giants this season. Overall, Seattle has won 10 of 13.
Ken Griffey Jr. hit a pair of sacrifice flies. Barry Bonds, bypassed earlier in the day for the N.L.’s starting lineup in the All-Star game, went 0 for 3. Jeff Kent homered for the third straight game, connecting off Bob Wells in the ninth for his 17th of the season. Rich Aurilia also homered for the Giants.
Jamie Moyer (8-2) won his fourth consecutive decision, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings with a season-high four walks. He walked the bases loaded in the second but got out of the jam when Aurilia grounded into a double play.
“I think I did it once in spring training, too,” Moyer said of his three-walk inning. “Why? I think I just wasn’t quite aggressive enough.”
In Moyer’s last six starts - including two no decisions - the Mariners have averaged 8.8 runs. He said he tries not to think about his offensive support.
“I’ve still got to go out and I’ve still got to pitch,” he said. “I’ve still got to keep teams from scoring a lot of runs.”
Cruz hit a two-run homer off William VanLandingham (4-6) for a 3-1 lead in the second and capped a six-run third with a three-run homer off Joe Roa.
A switch-hitter, Cruz has hit all five of his home runs from the left side. He’s 1 for 16 - a single - batting right-handed.
“I’m naturally right-handed,” Cruz said with a grin. “It’s just that I haven’t had many at bats right-handed so far. We’ll see what happens.”
Buhner glanced around the clubhouse, at longtime Mariners like Griffey and Martinez.
“We’ve got to pass the baton on to somebody,” he said. “I’m not going to play forever. Norm (Charlton), Junior, none of us can play forever. It’s nice to see kids like Alex and Jose come up, because one of these days they’ll have to continue what we were all a part of starting.”
Rodriguez’s sixth-inning homer off Roa was his third in five games since coming off the disabled list. Davis homered off Roa in the seventh.
VanLandingham gave up seven runs in 2-1/3 innings in his worst start of the season.
Dan Wilson added two RBI singles and the Mariners got a run on a passed ball by Damon Berryhill.
Rodriguez has a 14-game hitting streak. … The Giants gave up 10 or more runs for the ninth time this season, including four of their last 12 games. … Roa left in the seventh when he was hit on the left wrist by a line drive off the bat of Alvaro Espinoza. X-rays of Roa’s wrist were negative. His wrist was heavily bandaged after the game. … The Giants beat the Mariners 4-3, 4-2 and 8-6 in the first three games. … Baker said left-hander Kirk Rueter, who is scheduled to start for the Giants against Oakland today, was sick Tuesday with an ear infection.
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