SAN DIEGO — Rookie left-hander Mike Montgomery continues emerge as a bright counterpoint to what, for the Seattle Mariners, remains a disappointing and underachieving season.
Montgomery carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Tuesday night before settling for a one-hitter and a 5-0 victory over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
“It’s pretty easy to sum up,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “This kid was outstanding. He’s shown a lot of poise. I had no idea of what to expect when we first got him. Each and every outing, he impresses me even more.”
The Mariners backed Montgomery with homers by Mike Zunino and Brad Miller before adding an insurance run in the ninth on a throwing error.
That was plenty.
Montgomery’s gem followed a five-hit shutout victory over Kansas City. He improved to 3-2, lowered his ERA to 1.62 and became just the fourth different pitcher in franchise history to pitch consecutive shutouts.
Randy Johnson did it three times; Mark Langston did it twice; and Freddy Garcia did it once.
For all that, Montgomery wasn’t always sharp. He worked around walks in the first and third innings, and a walk and a hit batter in the fifth. He was better, he said, against the Royals.
“I was battling with myself on command a little bit more this game,” Montgomery said. “I was kind of out of sync a little bit. There were times when I missed three or four fastballs that were not even close.
“I just stayed with it, kept attacking and tried to make good pitches and try to get outs.”
Even into the seventh, Montgomery had thrown as many balls as strikes at 40 and 40 when he went 3-0 on Justin Upton, leading off the inning. Upton then flied out to left.
“It was all about getting his off-speed stuff over,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “The first couple of innings, he didn’t really have that. He did a good job of pitching with his fastball, moving locations to get ahead of guys.
“The later innings, he really found his off-speed stuff.”
The no-hitter ended when Yangervis Solarte pulled a clean one-out double into the left-field corner that hopped the wall. Montgomery responded by retiring the next two hitters.
“It was a bad pitch,” Montgomery said, “and he took advantage of it. First-pitch cutter. I just left it down the middle. He hit it hard. There was a little letdown, but it wasn’t a good pitch. So I kind of almost expected that.”
The Mariners acquired Montgomery, 25, in a March 31 trade from Tampa Bay for pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. A few years earlier, while in the Kansas City system, he was generally viewed as one of the game’s top prospects.
Montgomery opened the season at Triple-A Tacoma before an injury to James Paxton created an opening in the Mariners’ rotation. This was Montgomery’s sixth career start — and everything is coming together.
“Another big start,” Miller said. “Stepped up for us again. Pitched another complete-game shutout. It was awesome.”
The Mariners didn’t reached base against San Diego starter Ian Kennedy (4-7) until Zunino rocked a 409-foot homer to left on a 1-1 fastball with one out in the third inning.
It was Zunino’s ninth homer — and eighth with the bases empty.
The Mariners extended their lead to 4-0 in the fourth.
Kyle Seager led off with a grounder that skipped through second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who was playing on the outfield grass. Official scorer Bill Zavestoski initially called it a single: “Base-hit off the grass.”
It was later changed to an error. Either way, it ignited the inning.
Kennedy walked Nelson Cruz but struck out Seth Smith before Austin Jackson grounded an RBI single past shortstop Clint Barmes. Cruz tried belatedly for third when center fielder Melvin Upton bobbled the ball.
That turned into an out when left fielder Justin Upton, backing up the play, retrieved the ball and made a strong throw to third.
Miller followed with a 364-foot drive to right for a two-run homer.
After that, attention turned to Montgomery. Could he get his no-hitter? He settled for a second straight shutout. Reminded that he never had a shutout in 159 minor-league starts over eight pro seasons, Montgomery paused.
“No, I don’t think I have,” he said. “So it’s a good time to get them.”