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Gonzales works deep to win season debut

'Stronger, more confident' Mariners starter goes 6 1/3 innings vs. Giants
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SAN FRANCISCO -- Marco Gonzales, one of the big questions in the Mariners' rotation this offseason, passed his first test with flying colors Tuesday as the 26-year-old lefty limited the Giants to three runs over 6 1/3 innings in the Mariners' 6-4 victory at AT&T Park.

Gonzales spoiled the Giants' home opener with a strong start that was sullied only by a solo homer by Joe Panik in the fourth and a two-run shot by Evan Longoria that ended Gonzales' afternoon after 92 pitches.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Marco Gonzales, one of the big questions in the Mariners' rotation this offseason, passed his first test with flying colors Tuesday as the 26-year-old lefty limited the Giants to three runs over 6 1/3 innings in the Mariners' 6-4 victory at AT&T Park.

Gonzales spoiled the Giants' home opener with a strong start that was sullied only by a solo homer by Joe Panik in the fourth and a two-run shot by Evan Longoria that ended Gonzales' afternoon after 92 pitches.

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Gonzales never got deeper than five innings in his seven starts last season after being acquired from the Cardinals in August as he worked in his first year following Tommy John surgery, but he was strong all spring and looked in control against the Giants as Seattle improved to 3-1.

"He's a different guy," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We've been talking about it all spring. He's stronger, more confident -- I think he definitely should be able to build on that. I was hoping to get him through the lineup a third time, but getting that 6 1/3 is exactly what we were looking for and a great way to start."

Video: SEA@SF: Servais on Gonzales' start, 6-4 win

Handed a 4-0 lead in the first inning -- the most runs the Giants have allowed in the first frame of a home opener since moving to San Francisco in 1958 -- Gonzales allowed six hits with no walks and two strikeouts as he took his Cactus League success into the regular season.

"That was my goal, to put this to the test and be the real thing," said the former first-round Draft pick out of Gonzaga. "I just tried to be confident in my pitches and execute and keep my pitch count down. Honestly the credit goes to our offense today with the four runs in the first. I couldn't ask for a bigger boost of confidence, the way the guys swung it and played in the field. It was a huge team win all around for us."

Rotation depth figures to be Seattle's biggest concern this season, but Gonzales and veterans Felix Hernandez and Mike Leake all pitched well their first time around. Ironically, Seattle's lone loss came from James Paxton, expected to be the strongest link in the starting group.

"I felt good about our pitching all spring," Servais said. "The guys have been very consistent. There were questions about whether Felix was going to be healthy. He certainly looked healthy Opening Night and I'm looking forward to seeing him out there [Wednesday]. Our starting pitching is off to a good start. I think it's a little underrated, but we'll let it play out."

Offense doesn't look to be a problem so far as Dee Gordon and Jean Segura each ripped three hits -- with Gordon adding his first two stolen bases of the year -- and Mitch Haniger stayed hot with a two-run single to key Seattle's quick start against Giants lefty Ty Blach.

Video: SEA@SF: Gordon notches three hits, two steals

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Haniger applies the hammer again: The Mariners right fielder has gotten off to a hot start for Seattle and he came through with the big hit -- a bases-loaded two-run single -- to kick-start the four-run first off Blach. Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy followed with RBI singles as the Mariners jumped to the quick lead on five singles and a walk before recording their first out.

Video: SEA@SF: Haniger plates two with a single in the 1st

Marco reels it back in: The Giants finally got to Gonzales with Panik's home run into the bay leading off the fourth, followed by a sharp single by Andrew McCutchen. But Gonzales, who frequently faltered after fast starts last season, steadied the ship by inducing a broken-bat double-play grounder to short by cleanup hitter Buster Posey and then retired Longoria on a 403-foot flyout to the wall in center that Gordon tracked down.

Video: SEA@SF: Gordon trails back, leaps up for nice grab

QUOTABLE
"I was excited for this game. As soon as I saw it on the schedule, I knew it'd be huge. The fans here are crazy, and pitching in this environment never gets old. It's a beautiful stadium and I love pitching here. It's always a playoff experience when you're here in San Francisco." -- Gonzales, who pitched three games in relief against the Giants in the 2014 National League Championship Series for the Cardinals as a 22-year-old rookie

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Robinson Cano's RBI double in the fifth gave Seattle a 5-1 lead and pushed Cano past his hitting coach, Edgar Martinez, and into a tie with Hall of Famer Joe Cronin for 52nd place on the all-time doubles list with 515. Scott Rolen is 51st with 517.

Video: SEA@SF: Cano goes the opposite way for an RBI double

The Mariners are just 15-27 in their first road game of the season, but have now won seven of their last 10.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Giants went 2-0 on appeals. They successfully requested and received overturned calls involving Austin Jackson, who ultimately was ruled safe at first base after hitting a sixth-inning grounder, and Gregor Blanco, who was awarded a double after a replay review on a ball that hit the left-field line in the eighth.

Video: SEA@SF: Blanco gets double after overturned call

WHAT'S NEXT
Hernandez will look to build on his scoreless five-inning Opening Day debut when he takes on the Giants' Johnny Cueto on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. PT. Hernandez is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in four career starts against San Francisco, but this will be his first time pitching at AT&T Park.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB

Marco Gonzales, Mitch Haniger