SAN DIEGO — Even after watching Nelson Cruz drive his 79th pitch over the centre field fence to make it a one-run game with one out in the ninth, San Diego Padres rookie Jacob Nix hoped manager Andy Green would let him finish.
"I thought for sure he was going to leave me in there because of my pitch count," Nix said after coming within two outs of his first complete game in his fourth big league start, a 2-1 victory against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. "I thought for sure I was going to be able to finish."
Green wasn't buying it.
"He'd done enough today. I didn't want to put him in a situation where he was walking off that mound in a tie situation or a losing situation," Green said.
Nix, backed by stellar defence by shortstop Freddy Galvis and 21-year-old second baseman Luis Urias, who was making his big league debut, had the low pitch count because he had the Mariners swinging early and putting the ball in play. The 22-year-old Nix allowed one run and eight hits, walked none and struck out none.
"That was crazy efficient. Clearly he had enough pitches to get the last few outs. He showed a glimpse," Green said.
"One day I'll go nine," Nix said. "And maybe I'll mix in some punch-outs, too. I didn't really get to two strikes a whole lot. They were putting the ball in play really early. Outs are outs. I'm here to get outs. I don't care how I get them."
Travis Jankowski homered on Felix Hernandez's first pitch and Urias had a nice game for the Padres, who snapped a five-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven games.
Nix (2-2) retired Jean Segura to open the ninth before Cruz homered to centre, his 32nd. Kirby Yates came on to get the final two outs for his sixth save.
Hernandez (8-12) pitched well but lost his sixth straight decision over eight starts. The former AL Cy Young Award winner, who briefly was demoted to the bullpen earlier this month, struck out a season-high nine and walked only two in seven innings. He allowed only four hits but three of them factored into the scoring.
Jankowski drove Hernandez's first pitch over the fence in right field, his third homer. Wil Myers doubled off Hernandez with one out in the fourth and scored on Hunter Renfroe's two-out single to left.
King Felix said there was "frustration about the loss for sure. I haven't won since June 30. It's tough. I think I did a good job except for the bunts. The second bunt was pretty good."
Hernandez twice bunted into inning-ending double plays.
Manager Scott Servais said that other than Jankowski's homer, Hernandez "controlled the strike zone pretty well."
It was Jankowski's first career leadoff homer.
"Obviously I'd never done that before and to do it off a guy of his calibre, that felt good," Jankowski said. "More importantly it got the team on the board early and got that energy going, that fire going early."
Urias, one of baseball's top prospects, was called up earlier in the day even though Triple-A El Paso has qualified for the Pacific Coast League playoffs and the Padres are on pace to lose 100 games for the first time since 1993.
Urias was brilliant in making his first play, diving to his left to field a bouncer by leadoff hitter Mitch Haniger and throwing him out. Urias went 0 for 3 with a walk.
"I don't know how I made it," Urias said. "To be honest, I wasn't nervous the whole game, maybe because of the diving play. I just enjoyed the moment."
Said Nix: "They were making some ridiculous plays back there. Freddy and Uri both were making some really, really good plays."
Padres: Green said LHP Clayton Richard will have season-ending surgery on his left knee. He was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. Richard was 7-11 with a 5.33 ERA.
Mariners: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-2, 4.56) is scheduled to start Wednesday afternoon's series finale.
Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (6-7, 3.74) is scheduled to make his third start against an AL club. He's 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in interleague starts.
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