After three straight days of mediocre performances from its starting rotation, Seattle needed Nathan Karns to eat up some innings and give the Mariners relievers some rest.
Karns did his job and kept the Mariners hanging around long enough for two big innings and big home runs from Kyle Seager and Dae-Ho Lee.
Seager’s two-run homer in the sixth inning snapped a 2-all tie and Lee’s three-run shot capped a five-run eighth inning to give the Mariners a 9-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Monday.
Seattle snapped a three-game losing streak after getting swept at home by Minnesota, the worst team in the American League, thanks to those two big innings and perhaps Karns’ best performance of the season.
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“I thought one of the best games he’s pitched for us all year,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Aggressive. Went after and finished hitters. He knew he needed to get deep in the game, we talked about it beforehand and he did and was efficient with his pitches.”
Karns (5-1) won his fifth straight decision and pitched 6 2/3 innings, striking out six. Seattle’s starting trio of Felix Hernandez, Wade Miley and Taijuan Walker combined for just 14 innings pitched in the three-game sweep by Minnesota, and the effort by Karns was needed to give some bullpen a break.
“I believe in myself that I can go deep into games and today was an opportunity to go deep and I felt like I did the most I could with it,” Karns said.
Karns’ ability to keep the game close allowed Seattle to break out offensively late, starting with Seager’s that capped a four-run sixth inning. The two-run shot bounced off the top of the wall in right-center field and barely eluded the glove of San Diego’s Matt Kemp.
Adam Lind had a two-run single in the eighth after Seager was intentionally walked and Lee followed with his seventh homer of the year.
“I hit it good. I felt pretty confident about it,” Seager said. “It was a little closer than I was hoping.”
Down 2-0 entering the sixth, Nori Aoki started Seattle’s rally by reaching on catcher’s interference when his swing clipped the glove of Derek Norris. He scored on Smith’s second double of the game off San Diego starter Andrew Cashner (2-5). After Robinson Cano popped out, Nelson Cruz’s ground ball found its way through the infield to draw Seattle even at 2-2.
The game was tied for just a matter of seconds. Seager jumped on the first pitch from Cashner driving it to deep right center. Kemp had a chance to pull back the home run but hit the wall as he jumped and limited his extension. Seager’s ball avoided Kemp’s glove, hit off the top of the padded wall and bounced into the stands.
“Those things aren’t taken back very often. When they do, they’re unbelievably spectacular plays,” San Diego manager Andy Green said.
The Mariners knocked around former prospect Brandon Maurer in the eighth for five runs and three hits, capped by Lee’s homer to deep left-center field. Lee normally does not start against right-handed pitchers but found out when he arrived at the park on Monday he would be in the lineup.
“(Lee) does something, every game,” Servais said. “It’s amazing.”
Padres: RHP Cesar Vargas will have an MRI on his right elbow when the team returns to San Diego. Vargas was placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday.
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte (thumb) is scheduled to join Triple-A Tacoma on a rehab assignment on Tuesday. If all goes to plan the Mariners expect to activate Marte on June 6 when the team returns from its trip.
Padres: James Shields (2-6) starts for San Diego. He is 5-5 in his career against the Mariners.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma (3-4) goes for his third straight victory. Iwakuma threw seven strong innings in his last start versus Oakland.