All the great comebacks in major league history began with the same simple premise - first, you dig a big hole.
Derek Lowe did that on a balmy evening in Southern California, falling behind by seven runs to the San Diego Padres in the first inning Thursday, before he’d recorded two outs. That, of course, set up the tough part.
“We came back a couple of times,” manager Lou Piniella said of the 10-8 defeat. “We came back all night, but there’s a limit to how many runs you can score in a game.”
By the time the game was in the fifth inning, the pace had become so frantic that the Mariners already had used four pitchers and three left fielders - but they’d forged a 7-7 tie that seemed to stun a Qualcomm Stadium crowd of 46,483.
An inning later, Seattle had fallen behind by another run, used their fifth pitcher and rallied to catch the Padres again at 8-8.
It wasn’t nearly enough, because no matter how many rallies Seattle mounted or how hard they charged, the Padres used four swings of the bat - a pair of home runs by Steve Finley and homers by John Flaherty and pinch-hitter Greg Vaughn - to put 10 runs on the scoreboard.
“The ball must have been a hot potato tonight, because three times I handed it to a pitcher and the first hitter he faced hit a home run,” Piniella said.
Lowe lasted one-third of an inning and missed the strike zone with 22 of his 33 pitches.
Down in that 7-0 hole after the first inning, the Mariners kept creeping back. And each time they did, one of their pitchers or another would surrender more runs.
Joey Cora started the comeback with a two-run home run off Sterling Hitchcock, who had just walked Bob Wells. Mike Blowers - one of three Seattle left fielders used - singled home one run, Russ Davis doubled home another and by the third inning the score was 7-4.
Wells and Josias Manzanillo held their ground, and in the fourth inning Seattle caught up on a two-run home run by Edgar Martinez and a solo shot by Jay Buhner.
The tie lasted an inning, or until Finley hit reliever Greg McCarthy’s second pitch for a home run to make it 8-7, Padres.
Rob Ducey, the third Seattle left fielder, singled home a tying run with two outs in the sixth inning.
That tie lasted … an inning. McCarthy gave up a single to open the Padres’ sixth inning, and on Bobby Ayala’s third pitch, pinch-hitter Vaughn hit a two-run home run, nearly caught by Ken Griffey Jr., for a 10-8 lead.
Vaughn is reportedly headed for the New York Yankees today in a deal for Kenny Rogers and Mariano Duncan.
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