SEATTLE — After honoring the late Tony Gwynn in a pre-game ceremony Monday night, the Mariners got a sweet left-handed swing from Kyle Seager that set the tone for a 5-1 victory over San Diego.
Seager tattooed a 3-0 fastball from Padres starter Tyson Ross, with runners at first and third, and drove it into the right-field seats for a three-run homer in the first inning.
“I was looking for something down the middle, a fastball,” Seager said, “and try to hit it in the air. Worst-case scenario, if you get a pitch to drive, a guy makes a play on it, and we get a sacrifice fly.”
The Mariners added two more runs in the second — one coming on a Brad Miller homer — and one-time San Diego ace Chris Young and the bullpen took it from there.
“The guys came out and swung it.” Young said. “They put a lot of pressure on (Ross). They gave me the ability to be really aggressive and maybe made their guys expand a little bit at the plate more than they’d like.”
Gywnn, the greatest player in Padres’ history, died earlier in day, at age 54, from complications resulting from salivary gland cancer. The Mariners paid tribute to the Hall of Famer in a video tribute and a moment of silence.
The Mariners also marked the infield with Gwynn’s No. 19 in the “5.5 hole” — the space between shortstop and third base where so many of Gwynn’s 3,141 career hits found daylight.
Young pitched for the Padres from 2006-10, and was an All-Star in 2007, but had never faced them while pitching for three other clubs in a 10-year career.
“I have a lot of great memories from San Diego,” he said. “A lot of great people. A lot of faces have changed. But any fun about pitching against them disappeared this morning with the news of Tony passing.
“My condolences go out to his family, the Padres’ organization and the city of San Diego. He meant a lot to everyone there, and I’m grateful I got the opportunity to work with him and get to know him.”
Then it was down to business.
Young (6-4) bounced back from his first career Safeco Field loss by pitching six shutout innings before handing a five-run lead to Joe Beimel to start the seventh.
Beimel worked around a leadoff walk in seventh but exited after a leadoff walk in the eighth. Tom Wilhelmsen retired the next three hitters before surrendering the shutout on Carlos Quentin’s leadoff homer in the ninth.
Ross (6-6) steadied after a shaky start — three runs in the first and two more in the second — and pitched into the sixth. Even so, that early damage was significant: five runs on seven hits and six walks.
“Stuff was good,” Padres manager Buddy Black said. “Threw a low fastball on a 3-0 green light to a guy (Seager) who has power on the pull side, and he squared it up.”
The Mariners (36-34) have now won two in a row after a five-game skid dropped them back to .500. They complete the northern half of their “natural rivalry” series against the Padres at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday.
“We were in every game (of the five losses),” Miller said. “The Yankees played well here (in sweeping three games) but, yeah, we just took it in stride. Got back to showing up the next day and just getting after it.”
The two teams play Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon in San Diego.
Young’s shakiest inning was the first when he permitted two one-out singles, but he escaped with no damage in part because third baseman Kyle Seager ran down Yonder Alonso’s two-out foul pop near the stands.
The Mariners then jumped Ross for three quick runs.
Endy Chavez led off with a single but was erased at second on a James Jones bunt. Jones stole second and third while Robinson Cano drew a walk. Ross then fell behind 3-0 on Seager and offered up a get-me-over fastball.
Seager was swinging and lined the ball into the right-field seats for a three-run homer. It was the first homer by a Mariner on a 3-0 count since John Jaso on Aug. 10, 2012 against Ervin Santana at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
The blast came one day after Seager went 4-for-4 while two doubles and three RBIs in helping the Mariners end their skid with a 5-1 victory over Texas.
Bottom line: The lineup hums a lot sweeter with a productive Seager.
“It’s better when everybody’s swinging,” he countered. “It all starts at the top of the order. They were on base all night.”
The Mariners extended their lead to 5-0 in the second inning. First, Miller rocked a no-doubt, one-out homer to right. Jones then reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on Cano’s two-out double to left.
“We gave (Young) a lead early,” Miller said, “and he just went out there and pounded the zone. It felt like those first six innings flew by.”