Felix Hernandez, who had two losses and a no-decision in his three previous starts, found his “ace” form in San Diego Thursday. Aided by a season-high five home runs, including the first two of Nick Franklin’s major league career, Hernandez blew through the Padres, winning 7-1, as Seattle snapped a two-game losing streak.
Seattle, improving to 23-31, recorded its first five-homer game since June 7, 2006, when the Mariners beat Minnesota at Safeco Field 10-9 with home runs from Yuniesky Betancourt, Richie Sexson, Carl Everett, Ichiro and Raul Ibanez, the only member of the quintet still with the Mariners (although Ibanez left and returned since).
It also marked Seattle’s first five-homer game on the road since May 2, 2002, the day Mike Cameron belted four against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.
Hernandez made certain the Mariners would not extend their road losing streak to eight games by allowing one run on three hits in 8.0 innings. In improving to 6-4, Hernandez struck out six and walked three, throwing 70 of his 110 pitches for strikes.
Hernandez also improved his career mark at Petco Park to 4-0, 1.55 ERA, then gave way to in the ninth to Oliver Perez, who allowed two runners to get aboard with two outs, but ended the game by inducing a comebacker.
Kendrys Morales, who had a season-high eight-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday, homered to center on a 1-0 count in the second, his seventh, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Seattle tacked on two more runs in the third. After Brendan Ryan homered, his second, Morales had a run-scoring single, plating Kyle Seager, who had lined a single to center.
The Padres got a run back in the fourth when, after Alexi Amarista walked on a full count, Chase Headley singled, sending Amarista to third. He scored on Carlos Quentin’s sacrifice fly.
Franklin, summoned from AAA Tacoma earlier in the week when Dustin Ackley went down, cracked his first major league homer in the sixth, a shot off a change-up to center on a 2-2 count, off Andrew Cashner.
After Hernandez who drew a full-count walk off reliever Tim Stouffer, Endy Chavez hammered the ball over the wall in right, his second, giving Seattle a 6-1 lead. Stouffer replaced Cashner, who went six innings and allowed four earned runs on seven hits, including three homers.
Franklin had his second homer leading off the eighth for a 7-1 lead. In his fourth game, he became the earliest Mariner to a two-homer game in club history. Jose Cruz Jr. had two in his sixth game in 1997. At 22 years and 89 days, he’s the third-youngest Mariners player to record a multi-home run game. Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez did it three times before they reached that age.
The Mariners begin a three-game series at Minnesota Friday. Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.35) will work for Seattle against RHP Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 6.85). The Mariners will return to Safeco Field Monday for three against the Chicago White Sox Monday.
NOTES: Manager Eric Wedge said he hopes Michael Morse, who suffered strained quadriceps Wednesday, will be able to return to the team in three to five days. Morse did not make the trip to San Diego, but may be able to rejoin the club in Minneapolis.