Mariners 6, Padres 3
SEATTLE (AP)—Gil Meche said he hasn’t turned the corner yet. At least now, though, he can now see what may be around the bend.
The Mariners’ inconsistent right-hander pitched like the stalwart Seattle has been waiting for him to become on Saturday night. Meche held San Diego to four hits and one earned run in a season-high 7 2-3 innings of the Mariners’ 6-3 win.
“I’ve got to do that five times in a row, then I’ve turned that corner,” said Meche, a first-round pick in 1996. “But as good as that felt, that corner has to be pretty close.”
Meche (4-2) has won his last three starts. Kenji Johjima hit his second homer in as many games, Jeremy Reed doubled, tripled and scored two runs and Yuniesky Betancourt had two hits and two RBIs in the Mariners’ second straight win after they were swept in three games at Oakland.
Khalil Greene hit his ninth home run for the Padres, who lost for the fourth time in five games after beginning May by winning 13 of 14.
Johjima’s two-run drive on a hanging curveball from Clay Hensley capped Seattle’s three-run fourth inning. It was his fifth home run of the season.
Coming off his best start of the season, Hensley (2-3) allowed nine hits and a career-high six earned runs in six innings. He tossed a two-hitter in San Diego’s 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs last Sunday.
He repeatedly said he felt his pitches were as good Saturday as they were in Wrigley Field.
“Favor was not on my side,” Hensley said.
Greene’s leadoff home run in the eighth inning was Meche’s only mistake— far below his normal output for miscues. He breezed into the seventh inning having only allowed a Mike Piazza single. He didn’t walk a batter until Mike Cameron with one out in the seventh. He was ahead 5-0 by then.
“I thought he was outstanding … absolutely outstanding from his first pitch to his last pitch,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said.
Meche had walked at least three in each of his last five starts. Last season, he walked 72 and struck out 83 in 143 1-3 innings.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Gil, from center field,” said Reed, who was acquired by the Mariners on June 27, 2004. “I’ve never seen him spot pitches like he did today.”
Greene ended Meche’s shutout bid by hitting an 0-1 pitch into the Padres’ bullpen in the eighth. Second baseman Jose Lopez’s error and Josh Bard’s double two outs later chased Meche. Eddie Guardado relieved but allowed singles to Dave Roberts and Cameron, whose RBI made it 6-3.
Putz struck out two in the ninth inning to earn his fifth save in six chances.
“He would have been a tough match for anybody tonight, the way he threw,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said of Meche.
Meche said a bullpen session with Seattle pitching coach Rafael Chaves after his last start led to Saturday’s strong outing. Chaves told Meche to move his left hand farther from his body when he threw. Meche said that simple adjustment provided increased velocity, better control—just about everything he hadn’t had before.
“Ummm, that was pretty good,” Meche said, sheepishly, when asked where he would rank this start.
Meche struck out seven. He is 8-2 in interleague starts. … Lopez hit his AL-leading fifth triple high in the bottom of the fifth to score Betancourt with the fifth run. It was his 14th hit in his last 25 at-bats. … Ichiro Suzuki’s seventh-inning single extended his hitting streak to 14 games, longer than any streak he had in 2005. … Piazza started his second consecutive game at DH. Bochy said he will continue to rest the 37-year-old catcher at least once every four games. “And he’ll get two days off occasionally,” Bochy said. Bard again started at C. … The Mariners designated two-time All-Star OF Matt Lawton for assignment. IF/OF Mike Morse was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take Lawton’s place.