Felix rides five blasts to win over Padres
Allows one run in eight innings; Franklin hits first two career homers
SAN DIEGO -- Felix Hernandez bounced back from a pair of tough outings to allow just one run on three hits over eight innings, and rookie second baseman Nick Franklin hit a pair of home runs as the Mariners topped the Padres, 7-1, on Thursday at Petco Park.
Starting just his third game since being promoted from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday, Franklin led a homer-happy Mariners offense as first baseman Kendrys Morales, shortstop Brendan Ryan and right fielder Endy Chavez also went deep in support of Hernandez.
"I'm still getting my feet wet and enjoying every bit of it," said Franklin, a first-round Draft pick in 2009 who was called up to replace the struggling Dustin Ackley. "I'm just trying to stay relaxed and hopefully I can help the team and contribute to wins."
The youngster set a club record for the fewest number of games before his first multi-homer game by doubling up in his fourth appearance. Jose Cruz Jr. hit two home runs in his sixth career game in 1997.
"Wow," said Mariners skipper Eric Wedge. "Big day for Nick. Good for him. He hit a couple of balls really good. You can see, even in the short period of time he's been here, he's a little more comfortable, gaining some confidence. It was an impressive day by Nick. He did a nice job at second base, too."
Seattle finished off the two-city Interleague series with a 2-2 split and improved to 23-31 overall.
The five home runs were the most for Seattle in one game since June 7, 2006, against the Twins. It was the most home runs on the road for the Mariners since they hit seven against the White Sox on May 2, 2002, and the five home runs tied the most allowed by the Padres in a game at Petco since the park opened in 2004.
The Mariners have 64 homers exactly one-third of the way through their schedule, after totaling 101, 109 and 149 in the three previous years.
"This is what we're looking for right here," said Wedge. "You don't expect to hit four or five home runs, but the type of at-bats we had, and hitting the ball hard, playing a full game like we did, this is it. This is what we're shooting to do on a regular basis. It's not going to be that kind of score every time, but this is the way you want to compete at home plate."
The Mariners also got back their vintage ace on the mound. After giving up 10 earned runs and 19 hits in 11 2/3 innings over back-to-back losses to the Indians and Rangers, Hernandez allowed hits to the Padres in just two of his eight innings while walking three and striking out six.
The 2010 American League Cy Young winner came out with a steely determination to turn things back around.
"That was my mindset," Hernandez said. "When I was warming up in the bullpen, I felt pretty good. Today I just needed to step up. I was coming from two struggling outings and I had to go out there and throw good pitches. That's what I did today and we played unbelievable defense back there."
With the win, Hernandez is 6-4 with a 2.38 ERA in his first two months after signing his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.
Morales doesn't have such long-term stability, as he'll be a free agent after this season, but the 29-year-old first baseman seems to be finding a home for himself with the Mariners after being acquired from the Angels for Jason Vargas in December.
Morales continued his May surge by going 2-for-4, including a home run and two RBIs, giving him seven homers and a team-leading 31 RBIs. He's raised his batting average to .298 by hitting .347 (34-for-98) with 11 doubles, four home runs and 20 RBIs this month.
Morales' solo blast off right-hander Andrew Cashner got the Mariners on the board in the second inning. He added a run-scoring single in the third for a 3-0 lead.
Ryan helped Hernandez with both his bat and glove in this one, as the standout shortstop hit a solo home run in the third inning, then got his pitcher out of a jam with a defensive gem in the fourth.
The home run was the unexpected part, just the second homer of the season for Ryan and eighth in his three years with Seattle.
"I don't even know who to describe that one," Ryan said. "It was a changeup in and I got the barrel to it. And it was like, whack, I hit it, and I was starting to prepare for the next pitch. I was 102 percent sure it was a foul. I don't know what happened, if the wind brought it back, or if the spin did it, I don't know. But that was the least expected, most awesome result, I could ever not imagine."
As for his Web Gem in the fourth? After the Padres had pushed across their only run and had men on first and second with one out, Ryan snared Jedd Gyorko's shot up the middle with a diving stop to his left, then flipped the ball with his glove to Franklin to start an inning-ending double play that preserved a 3-1 lead.
"The best part is getting the outs," said Ryan, "but the second-best part is [Hernandez's] reaction. That's where the reward is. You love to see your pitcher get fired up like that. That brings everyone together. That's why he's so special."
Franklin then joined the act with solo home runs in the sixth and eighth innings, both to right field, sandwiched around a two-run shot by Chavez in the seventh.
Petco Park has moved in its fences this season, but all but Chavez's wall-scraper would have been out even in previous seasons.
"I made a lot of mistakes with my changeup," said Cashner, who allowed more than one home run in a game for the first time in 14 career starts. "They were flat up in the zone. I've got to be better and not give up home runs."