Padres edge Mariners as Richard wins again

SEATTLE -- In a very subtle way, San Diego manager Bud Black paid Matt Stairs a lofty compliment.

"He could have played in any era," Black said of the slugging Stairs.

And now that classic uppercut swing Stairs has produced for 18 seasons is a record setter.

Stairs cracked a long solo homer off the facade of the second deck, San Diego pitchers Clayton Richard and Heath Bell wiggled free from jams, and the Padres held on for a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.

A night after the teams combined for 23 runs to open interleague play, both sides struggled to mount much offense.

But not Stairs, who hit a 412-foot shot off a Las Vegas advertisement in deep right field in the fourth inning. The Padres said Stairs tied Todd Zeile's record by hitting a homer for his 11th team, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I'm not really into the personal stuff. ... To be able to contribute once in a while with home runs is nice," Stairs said. "I'm not going to go home and open up a bottle of wine or champagne to celebrate the record."

Stairs came through in the fourth off Seattle starter Ian Snell (0-3) for his first homer of the season. The Padres added another run in the sixth when Chase Headley scored on a wild pitch.

Richard (4-2) threw seven innings, giving up seven hits and just one run. Mike Adams worked the eighth and the Padres survived Bell's acknowledged mental lapse in the ninth as the San Diego closer picked up his 12th save.

San Diego improved to 8-7 in one-run games.

Mike Sweeney had the one clutch hit for Seattle with a two-out RBI single in the sixth to score Ichiro Suzuki. But the Mariners squandered good scoring chances in the first and third innings before Richard settled into a groove.

Richard struck out six and didn't walk a batter, setting down nine straight and 14 of 15 during one stretch after Seattle opened the game with three straight singles -- yet failed to score. Richard won his fourth straight decision and pitched at least seven innings for the third consecutive outing.

"It comes back down to situational hitting or timely hitting and we had opportunities, but Richard pitched a great ball game," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said.

Seattle scored fewer than three runs for the 18th time this season -- all losses. The Mariners had runners at first and third and one out in the first and a runner on second with no outs in the third and failed to score both times. Seattle finished 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and none was more glaring than the ninth.

Sweeney doubled with one out off Bell, and Jose Lopez followed with an infield single. With runners on first and third, Bell said he suddenly snapped back into focus after falling behind 3-0 to Milton Bradley. Three fastballs later and Bradley was down on strikes, and Bell capped the victory by getting Casey Kotchman to ground out to end it.

"Mentally, I don't think I was all there," Bell said. "I was thinking of other things. I hadn't pitched and maybe when you haven't pitched in a little while they say you can get rusty. I think my mental game was a little rusty."

Snell, moving back into the Mariners' rotation after Ryan Rowland-Smith stumbled, did his part. Limited to between 80 and 90 pitches -- he threw 83 -- Snell gave up just five hits and the only baserunner who reached third was Stairs as he rounded it while heading home.

Snell began the season in the rotation, then got bumped when Cliff Lee came off the disabled list. In his first start since April 27, Snell walked just one and struck out three.

Immediately, Seattle's bullpen and defense began faltering. Kanekoa Texeira took over for Snell and gave up Headley's double leading off the sixth. Headley moved to third on Stairs' groundout and scored when Texeira bounced a curveball in the dirt, skipping away from catcher Josh Bard, who attempted to backhand the pitch instead of blocking it.

Game notes
Seattle LHP Erik Bedard (shoulder) threw on Saturday and is likely to have a bullpen session next Saturday, Wakamatsu said. Bedard won't go on Seattle's next road trip. ... San Diego recalled RHP Luis Perdomo from Triple-A Portland on Saturday and optioned LHP Cesar Ramos to Portland. Ramos allowed seven runs in one inning of relief Friday night. ... San Diego won for just the second time in its last 12 games against Seattle.