Rodriguez’s HR, Raleigh’s 4 RBIs carry M’s past Padres 8-2

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SAN DIEGO — Julio Rodriguez sent a drive almost to the top of the brick warehouse in the left-field corner and pointed to the relievers in the bullpen who were also watching his monster two-run homer sail out of Petco Park.

“I thought it would be pretty cool to hit one up there but I wasn’t really like thinking about hitting it out there,” Rodriguez said after the Seattle Mariners beat the listless San Diego Padres 8-2 Monday.

The prized rookie said he was pointing to the bullpen “picking up the guys. They were looking that way from over there, so I was pointing at them. I just see it and hit it, I guess. That’s what I try to do every time I’m at the plate.”

Cal Raleigh drove in four runs – including a bases-clearing double – and Chris Flexen helped pitch the Mariners to their third straight win and sixth in seven games. The Padres gave their home fans little to cheer about on the holiday afternoon as they lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

The Mariners and Padres share a spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona, and have been deemed natural rivals by MLB for scheduling purposes.

Rodriguez drove a 2-0 pitch from left-hander Sean Manaea (3-4) onto the balcony of the fourth floor of the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse with one out in the fourth inning to give the Mariners a 4-0 lead. It was his 15th homer this season and 12th in his last 40 games. Dylan Moore was aboard on a leadoff single.

Rodriguez became the first player in big league history with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in his first 81 games.

Asked if he could double those numbers, he said: “I’m honestly not setting a limit on that. I’m just playing ball every day. Taking care of one day at a time and whatever results come out at the end of the season, I’m going to take. But I’m just going to keep on going.”

Said manager Scott Servais: “Julio, what else do you need to say? Hits the ball almost over the warehouse here. … Big, big hits today, good offensive day against a really good ballclub.

“We haven’t had that complete of a game since the beginning of our last homestand,” Servais added. “Offense was huge early in the game, getting on Manaea early. Flex doing what he does, eight strikeouts today, really in control the entire time out there and had all his pitches working against a real good team.”

Flexen (5-8) and three relievers combined to shut down the Padres, who have scored only 10 runs in their last five games. They needed a ninth-inning rally to beat the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Sunday and avoid a four-game sweep.

San Diego didn’t score Monday until Trent Grisham hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth.

Manaea followed Rodriguez’s homer by loading the bases and was replaced by Tayler Scott, who proceeded to retire five straight Mariners batters, including striking out the side in the fifth, before running into trouble in the sixth.

Rodriguez opened the inning by reaching on third baseman Manny Machado‘s throwing error. J.P. Crawford singled and Carlos Santana walked for the third time to load the bases. Raleigh then doubled to the gap in right-center to clear the bases and make it 7-0.

Flexen didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked Machado with one out in the fourth. He was pulled after walking Kim Ha-seong with two outs in the seventh to put runners on first and third. Erik Swanson came on and walked Grisham to load the bases before getting Jurickson Profar to fly out.

Flexen held San Diego to four hits in 6 2/3 innings, struck out eight and walked three.

The Mariners jumped on Manaea for two runs on three hits and a walk in the first. Raleigh drove in the first run with a grounder and Abraham Toro hit an RBI double.

Manaea allowed four runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.

SUSPENSIONS

Mariners OF Jesse Winker began serving a six-game suspension for his part in a brawl with the Angels on June 26. His original penalty was seven games. Crawford returned to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension.

UP NEXT

Mariners RHP Logan Gilbert (9-3, 2.26 ERA) and Padres RHP Mike Clevinger (2-0, 2.79) are scheduled to start Tuesday afternoon in the finale of the two-game series.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).