Dramatic grand slam ruins win for Meche, Mariners

The Mariners were one strike away from pulling out a win Friday night in San Diego, but lost their most heartbreaking game of the season thanks to the right-handed bat of Rondell White. Seattle will look to pick up the pieces Saturday when it sends Joel Pineiro to mound against San Diego's Adam Eaton.

The Seattle Mariners had the San Diego Padres right where they wanted them, down 3-0 heading into the ninth inning Friday night in San Diego.

A matchup of the Mariners, the team with the best record in baseball coming into the game, and the National League's worst team, the Padres, made the outcome all but a formality.

The Padres had other ideas, knocking Seattle reliever Jeff Nelson around for five runs, the final four coming on a two-out, two-strike walk-off grandslam by Rondell White, as San Diego shocked the Mariners, 5-3.

Nelson's blown save was his third on the season, and gave him his first loss. He fell to 3-1.

White, who came to the plate 0-4 on the day before the dramatic game-winning blast, helped the Padres to only their second win of the season when trailing after eight innings. It was his 12th long ball of 2003.

Nelson allowed pinch-hitter Gary Mathews Jr. to reach base via an infield single leading off the ninth. But it appeared the tall right-handed pitcher settled down shortly thereafter. He struck out the next two batters - Donaldo Mendez and Brian Buchanan - leaving Mathews on first base with two outs.

The next batter, Mark Kotsay, walked. And Mark Loretta singled to load the bases with slugger Ryan Klesko stepping to the dish. When Nelson fell behind in the count 3-1 on Klesko, M's manager Bob Melvin decided to walk the left-hander, allowing the Padres to score, but creating the matchup of Nelson against the right-handed bat of White.

The strategy failed.

Nelson's inablity to close the door overshadowed what was another brilliant performance by 24-year-old righty Gil Meche. Meche pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out six along the way and dropping his season ERA to 2.89.

Arthur Rhodes pitched a scoreless eighth, stranding Meche's runner on base.

Padres' young starter Oliver Perez, just 21-years-old, gave up three runs in five innings of work. Perez recorded his first major league win last season versus Seattle.

Seattle (48-24) scored all of its runs in the third innings, coming on a RBI single by Mike Cameron and a two-RBI double by Ben Davis.

Mike Mathews picked up the thank-you-very-much win for the Padres, improving his record to 3-3.

The Mariners were led by Ichiro, who went 3-5 and extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Loretta and Mendez each had two hits for San Diego (24-51).

Seattle will look to rebound from the numbing loss by sending Joel Pineiro (6-5, 3.86 ERA) to the mound against Snohomish High product, Adam Eaton (2-5, 4.41).

Game Notes:

On Assignment: Greg Colbrunn reported to Triple-A Tacoma Friday for the first game of a rehabilitation assignment. He went 2-4 with two runs scored.

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