It is the nature of spring training that Mariners reliever Tony Zych might have proved more Friday by turning a three-run lead into a 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Zych gave up three straight hits to start the ninth inning — one run scored and runners were on second and third. But he then closed out the victory by retiring the next three batters — two on strikeouts.
“He went to the slider today,” manager Scott Servais said. “They were on the fastball. They went up looking for it, and they squared a few up on him. That’s why you have to have the second pitch — and the command of it.”
Zych ended the game by stranding the tying run at third when he struck out Grant Green by throwing sliders on 3-1 and 3-2 counts.
“In the pen,” Zych said, “my fastball felt great. It felt great in warmups. I actually thought the pitches were fairly decent. They just came out swinging, and they got on a couple of them.
“I had to make the adjustment. In that situation there, nobody wants to give up any runs, but the truth is you’ve got to win the game there. Three runs ties it, but two doesn’t kill us. We still get a win.”
The Mariners (6-4) never trailed.
Hisashi Iwakuma opened the game by breezing through three shutout innings. That followed a spring debut last Sunday when he pitched two perfect innings against Texas.
“I think my fastball was pretty sharp,” he said. “I think the ball came out of my hand pretty well. I was able to command like I did last time. I felt I was able to throw a little harder today. So, overall, I think it was good.”
The Mariners caught an immediate break when Ketel Marte’s leadoff drive to left turned into a double when Mac Williamson lost the ball in the sun. Leonys Martin then sent a hard grounder up the middle for an RBI single.
Kyle Seager’s two-out single in the third ignited a two-run burst. Franklin Gutierrez followed with a slicing drive into the right-center gap that eluded a diving Gorkys Hernandez for an RBI double.
Stefen Romero made it 3-0 with a line-drive single to right.
The Giants (5-6) closed to 3-2 on Hunter Pence’s two-run homer in the fourth against Joel Peralta, who retired the first two batters before yielding a double to Buster Posey.
Chris Taylor’s two-out bloop double in the eighth against Clayton Blackburn boosted the Mariners’ lead to 4-2. Taylor scored when one-day call-up Tyler O’Neill followed with an RBI single.
That proved to be the winning run.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Martin made a base-running mistake in the first inning after driving in the game’s first run. He took off for second on a pitch to Seager, who sent a drive to center.
Martin reached second, paused to look at center, and then took a step toward third. Center fielder Hernandez caught the ball and made an easy throw to first for a double play.
“He didn’t pick up the ball off the bat,” Servais said. “It was a straight steal. It was not a hit-and-run. Most base-stealers, they are locked in on the base. They hear contact, and he just didn’t pick it up.”
PLUS: Tyler O’Neill has RBI singles in each of his two spring at-bats. He didn’t hit either pitch particularly well but managed to muscle the ball into the outfield. … O’Neill stole second base after his RBI single in the eighth, which put him in position to score when Taylor blooped a two-out RBI double into short right field. … The Mariners were 4 for 7 with runners in scoring position. … Right-hander Donn Roach, who is likely ticketed for Triple-A Tacoma’s rotation, pitched two scoreless innings. He gave up six runs over 1 1/3 innings in his last outing.
MINUS: Stefen Romero got picked off first base by Giants starter Jeff Samardzija for the final out in the third inning. … Peralta gave up his first runs after working three previous scoreless outings.
STAT PACK: An update on the Mariners’ ability to execute their “control the zone” mantra through 10 spring games: They have struck out 57 times while drawing 29 walks. Their staff has combined for 67 strikeouts and 23 walks.
QUOTABLE: When the game opened, a fan in the stands was standing in front of the press box and blocking the view of the official scorer, who informed the man of his need to see the action. To which the man responded: “I’ll let you know what happens.” It was said with a smile. The man sat down.
SHORT HOPS: Guillermo Heredia made his spring debut when he entered the game as a defensive replacement in left field for the Giants’ ninth inning. … Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, a former Mariner, was among those signing autographs at a booth at Scottsdale Stadium.
UP NEXT: The Mariners play the first of two split-squad doubleheaders in a three-game span Saturday with two night games.
Lefty Mike Montgomery will make his spring debut at 6:05 p.m. (PST) against Cincinnati in Goodyear, and lefty James Paxton will start at 6:40 p.m. against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Peoria Stadium.
Both opponents are also starting lefties: Cody Reed for Cincinnati and Alex Wood for the Dodgers.
Bob Dutton: email@example.com