Padres hold off late M's rally

Mariners catcher Rob Johnson can't tag out Padres' Kyle Blanks on a sacrifice fly to center by Padres' Tony Gwynn in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday at Safeco Field in Seattle.<BR><I>AP?photo</i>

SEATTLE - Chad Gaudin's brilliant performance was just inches from being derailed in the second inning.

He gave up three singles in a row to the heart of the Seattle Mariners' lineup and walked .123 hitter Ronny Cedeno to force in a run. Then Ichiro Suzuki laced a ball up the right-field line that would have gone for extra bases and scored at least two more runs.

The one problem for Suzuki: First base umpire Randy Marsh called the ball foul.

"It was close," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Yeah, it was close."

Gaudin rebounded and forced Suzuki to ground out to end the inning and he went on to match a career high with 11 strikeouts in the San Diego Padres' 9-7 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

"That right there could have been the difference in the game," Gaudin said. "He gets a base hit and you never know what can happen. Especially after walking in a run, I really made a conscious effort of making sure I made good pitches and minimized the damage and keep him off the bases. He's a great hitter and probably one of the hardest outs in the game and that was a big accomplishment and I think that's why the game stayed where it did."

The Padres offense, bolstered by the return of Scott Hairston from the disabled list, gave Gaudin (3-6) plenty of run support early on. Hairston singled with one out in the fourth and Adrian Gonzalez homered to right off Mariners starter Garrett Olson (2-2), giving the Padres a 2-1 lead.

Olson gave up two more runs in the fifth. A single by Kevin Kouzmanoff and a ground-rule double by Chase Headley chased Olson from the game.

"I was struggling to get the ball down in the zone, especially after the first couple innings," Olson said. "I had to battle to make pitches."

Olson allowed six runs on eight hits over 5 1-3 innings pitched.

Roy Corcoran walked the next two batters on eight pitches to score Kouzmanoff from third. An infield single by Cabrera, a sacrifice fly from Tony Gwynn Jr. and singles by Eckstein and Hairston gave the Padres a 9-1 advantage.

Gaudin's streak ended in the bottom of the sixth when Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 619th homer to right-center field that one-hopped off the top of the wall.

"I felt good today, the slider was working, fastball was working, change was working, and I felt I kept the hitters pretty honest and it worked out great for me," Gaudin said.

Gaudin left after seven innings, giving up two runs and four hits, and the Mariners' bats came to life. Greg Burke gave up a leadoff single to Suzuki in the eighth inning. Russell Branyan, who fanned three times against Gaudin, homered to right to close the deficit to 9-4.

After a walk by Griffey and infield single by Franklin Gutierrez, Wladimir Balentien singled to center to drive in a run and chase Burke.

Pinch-hitter Mike Carp then scored Gutierrez with a sacrifice fly to make it 9-6.

Cedeno walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, then Suzuki singled to left off closer Heath Bell to bring the tying runner to the plate. Bell then struck out Branyan before pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney singled off the glove off third baseman Kouzmanoff to score Cedeno from second to pull to 9-7.

Griffey then flew out to center and Gutierrez grounded out to second to wrap up the game for San Diego. Bell picked up his 20th save of the year.


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