SEATTLE — Clayton Richard found himself quickly pitching from behind in his return from the disabled list.
With the way Seattle's Aaron Harang was throwing, there was no way the San Diego Padres were going to be able to overcome the early deficit.
Harang tossed a four-hitter, Jason Bay hit his first career leadoff homer and Michael Morse added a three-run shot as part of Seattle's four-run first inning as the Mariners beat the Padres 9-0 on Monday.
Richard (0-5) remained winless this season, getting punished for making poor pitches in the first inning. It was his first start since May 4 after spending time on the disabled list with an intestinal virus.
"It's frustrating, but you can't let that deter you from going out and executing pitches and trying to keep your team in it," Richard said. "Unfortunately it was a rather big hole early. That changes the complexion of the game when you give up those runs early."
Richard allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings. It turned out that anything he gave up was going to be too much with how well Harang pitched.
After failing to make it out of the fourth inning in his previous start, Harang tossed his first complete game since June 4, 2009 and first shutout since April 12, 2009.
And it was surprising because of how bad Harang was in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels when he gave up two home runs, nine hits and seemed on the verge of losing his spot in Seattle's rotation. Harang struck out a season-high eight and threw 122 pitches.
But not everyone was impressed with Harang's effort. San Diego's Chase Headley felt Harang got lucky.
"I've known Aaron a long time. He got away with some stuff today," Headley said. "There were some hard-hit balls. Not that he didn't pitch well, but I don't see a complete-game shutout."
Harang took a one-hitter into the seventh inning in the best performance of his seven starts with Seattle. He was efficient with his pitches and used the favorable dimensions of Safeco Field. Three times Harang saw fly balls caught on the warning track, including center fielder Endy Chavez making a twisting grab just in front of the wall to rob Headley of extra bases in the first inning.
Headley led off the seventh inning with a hard shot that deflected off the glove of a diving Kendrys Morales at first base for the Padres' second hit. Headley wasn't at first long as Carlos Quentin hit a line drive right back at Harang, who got his glove up in time and was able to easily double off the runner at first.
Harang gave up a hit and walk in the eighth, but was able to finish the inning and began the ninth to a loud ovation. He struck out Headley on a 12-pitch at-bat to start the ninth, got Quentin looking and got a flyout from Yonder Alonso to finish it off.
Richard's troubles started immediately as Bay hit the fourth pitch out to deep right-center field for his fifth homer of the season. Morse followed with his 11th homer into the right-field seats after Richard walked Kyle Seager and gave up a double to Morales.
Richard settled in after the first, allowing just Kelly Shoppach's solo homer in the fourth, but was done after the sixth. Seattle blew the game open in the seventh with four runs off reliever Anthony Bass.
Richard actually lowered his ERA from 8.54 to 8.35.
"The way Aaron was pitching were weren't going to get back in that game even though we hit some balls on the nose that could have swung the game a little bit early," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "We hit some balls right at people, had some good swings. After that, when they stretched the lead against Anthony it was a tough one from there."
NOTES: The Padres were shut out for the third time this season. ... San Diego optioned LHP Tommy Layne to Triple-A Tucson to clear a roster spot for Richard. ... Seattle manager Eric Wedge said 1B Justin Smoak (strained oblique) is feeling a little better but no determination has been made if he'll go on the disabled list.