Jacksonville right fielder Juan Encarnacion hit three home runs and drove in six runs to lead the Double-A Southern League All-Stars to a 9-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners in an exhibition game Monday night.
Beginning a five-city, 12-game road trip, Seattle manager Lou Piniella yanked his starters after one inning. That allowed the eager Southern Leaguers to pound six pitchers for 15 hits and overcome an early 3-1 deficit.
Rafael Carmona, brought up from Seattle’s Triple-A Tacoma team, took the loss for the Mariners.
Ken Cloude of Memphis got the victory for the All-Stars, striking out six and allowing no runs and two hits in three innings.
Encarnacion followed his first-inning solo homer with a two-run shot in the third inning to tie the game at 3. His second two-run homer came in the seventh and keyed a three-run rally that gave the All-Stars a 7-3 lead. He added an RBI hit in the eighth.
Luis Raven of the Birmingham Barons put the All-Stars ahead to stay with an RBI triple in the sixth. Raven drove in Knoxville third-baseman Kevin Witt and then scored on a single by Orlando’s Raymond Nunez.
Ken Griffey Jr. had an RBI single for Seattle in the first.
The Mariners made the trip to Zebulon as a favor to Carolina Mudcats owner Steve Bryant, who operated a Seattle minor league franchise in the early 1990s.
The Mariners lead the West by a half game over Anaheim and some of them weren’t happy about the trip to rural North Carolina.
“A lot of the guys were complaining before we got here,” said Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez. “But my attitude is that, if you’re a big leaguer, you should play a big-league game, no matter where you are.”
The game started the Mariners’ longest road trip of the season. They open a three-game series today in Cleveland, followed by three in New York, two in Boston and four in Milwaukee.
“We could have used a rest,” Piniella said. “The problem with being in the Northwest, like Seattle, is that you’re always either on the road, in an airplane or playing games.”
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