SEATTLE - San Diego Padres starter Clayton Richard was tagged for four early runs, and Seattle Mariners starter Aaron Harang didn't need much support in pitching a complete-game shutout as the Mariners beat the Padres 9-0 at Safeco Field on Monday afternoon.
Harang, who entered the game with an 8.58 ERA, turned in a surprisingly dominant performance Monday. The San Diego native threw his first complete-game shutout since April 12, 2009, allowing just four hits along the way. Harang (2-5) struck out eight batters while lowering his season ERA more than two runs, to 6.51.
The Mariners (22-29) had 11 hits while matching their second-highest run total of the season. Seattle has scored nine or more runs only three times all year, and only twice since April 9.
The Mariners welcomed Richard (0-5) back from the disabled list by taking a 4-0 lead after four batters. Jason Bay, who finished Sunday's game with a walk-off RBI single in the 13th inning, picked up where he left off by homering to center field on Richard's fourth pitch of the game. No. 2 hitter Kyle Seager walked and moved to third on a Kendrys Morales double, then cleanup hitter Michael Morse hit a three-run home run to right.
After a visit from pitching coach Darren Balsley, Richard settled in to retire nine of the next 10 batters he faced before Seattle's Kelly Shoppach led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left field.
That gave the Mariners a 5-0 lead.
Harang and Richard both entered the game with ERAs above 8.50, while their combined season record was 1-9.
But Harang kept the San Diego bats at bay for most of the afternoon, helping stabilize his own job security while protecting a Seattle bullpen that had made 30 pitching changes in a span of nine games before Monday. Along the way, Harang threw a season-high 122 pitches.
He gave up a leadoff double to San Diego's Everth Cabrera but didn't allow another runner to reach second base until the eighth inning. Only four San Diego hitters reached base over the first seven innings, and Harang gunned one of them down when he turned a lineout back to the mound into a double play in the seventh.
Richard, who went on the 15-day DL on May 5 because of an intestinal virus, gave up seven hits and five earned runs in six innings of work. He actually improved on his ERA, which dropped to 8.35, but has now given up 10 home runs in seven starts this season.
San Diego reliever Anthony Bass followed in Richard's footsteps by getting off to a rough start, giving up two singles and two walks to the first four batters he faced during a four-run seventh.
Morales drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single off Bass in the seventh, then Seager scored on a Bass wild pitch as Seattle built an 8-0 lead before the right-handed reliever got his first out.
The Mariners added another run in the seventh when Raul Ibanez doubled into the corner, scoring Morales from third for a 9-0 lead. Bass faced eight batters during the seventh, retiring just two of them while giving up four hits and two walks. He was charged with all four runs in the inning.
Morales had three hits and two RBIs for the Mariners, who are now a league-best 22-13 in Memorial Day games. Morales has now hit safely in 18 of 21 games in May, with a .360 batting average, 12 doubles, three home runs and 28 RBIs this month.
Harang became the second Mariners pitcher to pitch a complete game this season. It was Harang's ninth shutout of his 11-year career.
Notes: The Mariners made two roster moves before the game, the more notable of which involved 2B Dustin Ackley. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, after pitcher Stephen Strasburg, Ackley was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Monday after hitting just .205 this season. The 25-year-old Ackley is the second everyday starter to get sent to Tacoma in less than a week, joining C Jesus Montero. The Mariners called up IF Nick Franklin from Tacoma, as well as RHP Hector Noesi. To make room for Noesi, Seattle optioned LHP Lucas Luetge to Tacoma. ... The Padres optioned LHP Tommy Layne to Triple-A Tucson, making room for Richard on the roster. ... Mariners 1B Justin Smoak (strained oblique) sat out his second consecutive game Monday. ... Bay's home run in the bottom of the first inning was the Mariners' sixth leadoff home run of 2013, setting a team record for home runs to lead off a game in a season. It was the first for Bay, while Franklin Gutierrez (three) and Michael Saunders (two) have had multiple games with leadoff homers.