Franklin Gutierrez and Kendrys Morales had home runs, but Arizona turned Joe Saunders’ outing into The Gong Show, scoring eight earned runs on seven hits off the lefthander in five innings in an 8-4 Cactus League victory over the Mariners Sunday in Scottsdale. Saunders entered the game in what figured to be his last outing in Arizona as the club’s probable No. 3 starter.
Absent for a week due to leg stiffness, Gutierrez hit his fourth spring homer in the first inning off Wade Miley. Morales connected in the third for his sixth, a three-run shot, also off Miley, creating a 4-1 lead.
But Saunders was unable to hold the advantage as the Diamondbacks tallied five runs in the bottom of the third.
Aaron Hill had an RBI single during the inning while Paul Goldschmidt delivered a two-run single and Cliff Pennington a run-scoring double.
The Mariners struck out 14 times against D-Backs pitchers, who retired 14 of the last 15 batters they faced. Newcomer Endy Chavez doubled with two outs in the ninth to halt a string of 13 consecutive Seattle batters retired.
The battle for one of two open spots in the Mariners’ rotation will be the focus Monday at 1:05 p.m, when Brandon Maurer starts against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.
Maurer put up the most impressive numbers among the four remaining candidates, posting a 1.20 ERA in five outings, including two starts, spanning 15.0 innings.
NOTES: The Mariners signed outfielder Endy Chavez, released by Kansas City Friday, to a minor league contract. Chavez, 35, was the Mariners Opening Day left fielder in 2009, but had his season cut short after suffering an ACL tear in his right knee in a collision with Yuniesky Betancourt. Chavez batted .273 (44×161) in 54 games with the Mariners. Chavez is an 11-year veteran. The Mariners have 33 players on their spring training roster . . . Jon Garland exercised the “out” clause in his contract and left camp Friday afternoon. He wanted the Mariners to make a commitment to him as a starter, but GM Jack Zduriencik said he wasn’t ready to make that call with so much close competition for the final two rotation positions. Garland, 34, could have made $1 million in salary and $500,000 in incentive bonuses if he mad the roster. He seemed recovered from shoulder surgery and pitched six innings Thursday and gave up two runs.