By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SAN DIEGO — Expect the Seattle Mariners to re-double those efforts to find some additional lineup punch after wasting another superb start Thursday afternoon in a 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
This time, it was six scoreless innings from Erasmo Ramirez before the Padres sprung to life in the seventh against rookie Dominic Leone, who inherited a 1-0 lead from Ramirez.
And how unlikely was that?
Leone entered the game with a 1.19 earned run average after limiting opponents to one run over 172/3 innings in his previous 15 appearances.
“Everything was up,” he said. “I didn’t do my part, and they did what they’re supposed to do. They put good swings on it.”
The Padres scored four runs in the seventh against Leone and Joe Beimel in gaining a split in the two-and-two “natural rivalry” series against the Mariners, who won Monday and Tuesday at Safeco Field.
Leone’s rare, but ill-timed, rough outing aside — look, he’d been lights out until Thursday — the Mariners also could trace their troubles to an attack again mired in snooze mode.
They managed just one tainted run in seven innings against Padres rookie Jesse Hahn … one day after a 2-1 loss in which Felix Hernandez settled for a no-decision after yielding one run in seven innings.
“We’ve got to string better at-bats together and better contact together,” first baseman Logan Morrison said. “It can’t be that Robby (Cano) is the only one hitting. We’ve got to figure it out.”
Ramirez exited the game for a pinch-hitter in the seventh despite having thrown just 70 pitches. He has not allowed a run in his past 162/3 innings, which covers three-plus starts.
“I feel like I’m back to being myself,” Ramirez said. “Every outing, I feel I’m getting better. That’s the idea. Just pound the strike zone, no matter who I face. That’s my goal.”
Why the hook?
“He’s struggled to this point,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We’re finally starting to turn the corner with him. If we can get him out of there on a positive note and continue to build, that’s what we’re going to do.
“Our bullpen just didn’t hold them.”
Leone (2-1) started the seventh by retiring Yasmani Grandal on a fine play by Cano at second, but Tommy Medica followed with a triple past a diving James Jones in center field.
The Mariners pulled their infield in, which didn’t matter when Cameron Maybin tied the game by plugging the right-center gap for another triple.
“(Leone) was just missing up,” catcher John Buck said. “Normally, he throws that razor-blade thing down and away. It just backed up, and was up.”
Carlos Quentin batted for Alexi Amarista and, with the Mariners keeping their infield in, drew a walk.
After Jace Peterson replaced Quentin as a pinch-runner, Chris Denorfia batted for Hahn and lined an RBI single into center.
That finished Leone.
In came Beimel, who retired Will Venable on a grounder before yielding a two-run single to Everth Cabrera. That made it 4-1. Both runs were charged to Leone, whose ERA nearly doubled to 2.35.
“We got our (backside) kicked,” McClendon said. “That’s what I saw. It’s that simple. Sometimes, we try to overanalyze things. I don’t have that answer. It’s baseball. They got hit. Move on.
“It happens to everybody.”
Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street each pitched a scoreless inning in protecting the victory for Hahn (2-1). Street got his 20th save.
The Mariners scored their only run in the fifth and only because the Padres’ defense sabotaged Hahn after Brad Miller drew a leadoff walk.
Hahn struck out Ramirez, who bunted through a third strike, and should have been out of the inning when Endy Chavez sent a hopper back to the mound. Hahn made a good throw to second, but Cabrera dropped the ball.
So runners at first and second with one out.
Hahn struck out Jones, but Cano lined an RBI single into center. The Mariners settled for just one run, though, because Seager stranded runners at first and third by striking out.
One run wasn’t enough.
“We had some chances,” McClendon said. “We just didn’t have very good at-bats in scoring opportunities today. That’s been our challenge all year.”