Catcher Nick Hundley #4 of the San Diego Padres looks on as he works behind the plate against the Colorado Rockies during MLB action on Opening Day at Coors Field on April 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 7-0. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Late, dramatic wins for the San Diego Padres at Petco Park are starting to become routine.
It was San Diego's seventh win at home this season that was decided in the ninth inning or later, including four that ended on home runs. It was also the second time in less than two weeks that Hundley has supplied the game-winning swing.
"If you look at the whole (ninth) inning, it's a microcosm of where we are at," Hundley said. "We had five great at-bats just to get to me, just to give me the opportunity."
The late-inning wins have given the Padres confidence, especially at spacious Petco -- where many games are close, low-scoring affairs.
"Everybody just believes that we are going to win these games," said Chase Headley, who scored the winning run. "Even the close games we don't win, we are putting ourselves in position to win, and that gives us confidence. It's starting to build."
The late-inning loss was all-too familiar for the Mariners, who have lost 15 games in their opponents' last at-bats, including nine game-ending hits.
"When we have a chance to win, we've got to go out and win," said Seattle closer David Aardsma. "I'm the last one holding them up and obviously, I haven't done the job as well as I need to."
The victory allowed San Diego to pull into a first-place tie in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost 10-1 against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Pinch hitter Will Venable led off the ninth with a single off Aardsma (0-4). He advanced to second on a David Eckstein's sacrifice. Aardsma then hit Headley to bring up Adrian Gonzalez, who doubled into the right-field corner to score Venable and tie the game 3-3.
Scott Hairston was walked intentionally to load the bases before Hundley lifted a fly ball to medium-deep right field. Ichiro Suzuki's throw was not in time to catch Headley, who scored standing up.
"I was just looking for something to drive there," Hundley said. "He threw me a fastball out over the plate that I could get out to the outfield."
Said Aardsma: "I have to go out there and get outs, and I didn't. That two-strike pitch to Venable, I left it up. If I get that out, they don't have much going that inning."
Aardsma blew a save opportunity for the fourth time this season.
Hundley also helped the Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 on May 30 at home with a pinch-hit single in the 11th inning.
"I think we are all on the same page," Hundley said. "We are here to get a job done and no one cares who gets the big hit as long as we win."
Joe Thatcher (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
Seattle lost its fourth straight and for the sixth time in seven games.
San Diego won for just the third time in its last 15 interleague home games.
Milton Bradley hit a solo homer in the sixth inning to put the Mariners ahead 3-2. Bradley connected off Kevin Correia for his fourth homer and first since May 25.
Jason Vargas allowed a pair of runs in the third inning but pitched out of a couple of jams for Seattle. The right-hander gave up seven hits, struck out five and walked two as he allowed three earned runs or less for the 11th straight start.
After falling behind 2-0, the Mariners tied the score in the fifth.
Eliezer Alfonzo led off with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on Suzuki's ground out. Chone Figgins was hit by a pitch and scored when Franklin Gutierrez tripled off the top of center-field fence.
Gutierrez missed a home run by inches as the ball hit the padding at the top of the fence.
Bradley finished 3 for 4 and had a stolen base.
Tony Gwynn put the Padres ahead in the third with an RBI triple that scored Jerry Hairston Jr., who led off with a single. One out later, Eckstein singled in Gwynn for a 2-0 lead.
Correia gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings.