SAN DIEGO (AP)—Jeff Weaver finally felt good about a start.
Granted, it didn’t last long and Weaver didn’t get the decision, but the night ended so much differently than each of his six previous starts did.
Richie Sexson tied the game with a leadoff homer in the eighth and Jose Lopez singled in the go-ahead run in the ninth as the Mariners rallied against San Diego’s usually reliable bullpen for a 6-5 win over the Padres on Saturday night.
Weaver’s season has been nothing short of awful. He was activated earlier in the day from his first career stint on the disabled list, due to shoulder tendinitis, and brought an 0-6 record and a 14.32 ERA into the game.
He left after four innings with stiffness in his lower back. He was listed as day-to-day.
But he was strong against the Padres, retiring his final 11 batters and holding San Diego to two runs, one earned, on two hits before leaving after four innings with lower back stiffness.
He lowered his ERA to 12.46.
“It was a positive outing and we’ll continue to move on from here,” Weaver said. “Baby steps. We’ll get back in the swing of things shortly.”
The right-hander said all his pitches were working.
“Even when I fell behind, I was able to get guys out making quality pitches,” he said. “There was life on the pitches. Sharpness on the breaking pitches. Everything went good.”
His back stiffened when he broke out of the box in his first at-bat, a groundout in the third inning.
“We probably could have run him back out there, but he was throwing so well and he’s come so far from where he was before he went on the disabled list, I didn’t want to risk him hurting his arm or really hurting his back to the point where he wouldn’t be available, and hurt our chances to win that ballgame,” manager Mike Hargrove said.
“The relief will come when I start winning some ballgames,” Weaver said. “We won today and that’s a first for when I was out there. That’s all that counts right now. We’re playing good baseball and I want to contribute.”
Seattle beat the NL West-leading Padres for the second straight night, and by the same score. Friday night’s victory took 11 innings.
Seattle’s Yuniesky Betancourt singled in the fifth to extend his career-best hitting streak to 20 games, the longest active streak in the majors this year.
Sexson opened the eighth with a homer to left off Scott Linebrink, his ninth.
Pinch-hitter Ben Broussard opened the ninth with a single off Doug Brocail (2-1) and was replaced by pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist. Ichiro Suzuki sacrificed Bloomquist to second and Lopez brought him home on a hit up the middle.
San Diego’s David Wells pitched into the seventh.
It was the same pitching matchup from Game 2 of the division series in October, when Weaver led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-0 win over the Padres. Weaver pitched the Cardinals to the victory that clinched the World Series in five games over Detroit, then signed an $8,325,000, one-year contract with Seattle in late January.
The Mariners scored three runs in the seventh to pull to 5-4.
With the Padres leading 5-1, Wells allowed a single by Kenji Johjima opening the inning and a double by Adrian Beltre before making way for Heath Bell. When Bell was late covering the bag on Betancourt’s grounder to Adrian Gonzalez, the first baseman threw out Johjima trying to score.
Bell walked Vidro and then allowed a two-run single by Ichiro Suzuki and an RBI base hit by Lopez.
The Padres have been used to near-perfection from their bullpen, which came in leading the majors in ERA (2.13) and opponents’ average (.203).
“A game like this sort of shocks us,” manager Bud Black said. “It’s part of the game. They have been so good for so long. They are human.”
Wells allowed three runs and six hits in six-plus innings, struck out two and walked none.
“These guys have been stellar,” Wells said about the bullpen. “I’ll back them up.”
Seattle’s Raul Ibanez hit an RBI double with two outs in the first.
San Diego went ahead in its half of the inning on Mike Cameron’s RBI double and Russell Branyan’s sacrifice fly.
The Padres took a 5-1 lead in the fifth after the first three batters reached and scored against Jason Davis. Among them was Wells, who reached when third baseman Adrian Beltre fielded his sacrifice bunt and pulled first baseman Sexson off the bag with a wide throw for an error.
The first run that inning scored on a wild pitch, and the others came on consecutive one-out singles by Jose Cruz Jr. and Gonzalez.
Of the 37 runs Weaver has allowed this year, 17 have come in the first inning. … CF Mike Cameron was in the starting lineup a night after spraining his left wrist when he caught it on Sexson’s glove while being thrown out at first base in the seventh inning of Seattle’s 6-5, 11-inning win.