Mariners-Padres Preview

The San Diego Padres have used strong starting pitching to

stifle the Seattle Mariners this year, beginning with a strong

outing by Clayton Richard.

The Padres will send Richard to the mound Sunday when they try

for their first three-game home sweep of the Mariners, who will

counter with Felix Hernandez.

San Diego (37-25) and Seattle (23-39) have played every year

since interleague play began in 1997, and the Padres have won four

straight for the first time. The Mariners won 15-8 at home on May

21 before managing a total of six runs in the next four

meetings.

Padres starters have gone at least six innings in all of the

wins, with Wade LeBlanc allowing one run in six innings Saturday to

outpitch Cliff Lee in a 7-1 victory that clinched the season series

for San Diego for the first time since 2004.

Next in line for San Diego is Richard (4-3, 2.72 ERA), who is

2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners,

including a 2-1 road win May 22 in which he yielded one run over

seven innings.

“Richard pitched a great ball game,” Seattle manager Don

Wakamatsu said.

The left-hander is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts since

going 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in his previous five. He allowed one run

over seven innings Tuesday in a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the New York

Mets.

The Mariners have had problems containing Adrian Gonzalez, who

is 9 for 20 with five RBIs against them this year. Gonzalez had two

hits Saturday, including his 14th homer, and is batting .412 (21

for 51) with five homers, 15 RBIs and 11 runs scored in his last 13

games.

Gonzalez has the most experience of any Padres hitter against

Hernandez (3-5, 3.77), going 7 for 24 with one homer. Hernandez

fell to 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in six career starts against San Diego

after giving up three runs over seven innings in an 8-1 loss May

23.

The right-hander is still searching for his first road win after

going 0-2 with a 3.59 ERA in his first seven outings. Hernandez

allowed seven runs over six-plus innings in a 7-1 loss at Texas on

Tuesday.

Mariners superstar Ichiro Suzuki is 9 for 23 against the Padres

this season to extend his interleague hitting streak to 16 games.

Suzuki had three hits Saturday to snap out of a 2-for-20 slump.

Seattle’s latest losing streak is at five games, with its

offense producing 10 runs. The Mariners matched a season high by

stranding 12 runners Saturday.

“That’s two nights in a row that we’ve had a pretty good

starting pitching performance and our offense has squandered it,”

Wakamatsu said.

The Padres expect manager Bud Black to return to the dugout

Sunday after missing the first two games of the series because of

his daughter’s graduation. Bench coach Ted Simmons filled in for

Black.