Shawn Estes is on his way to becoming one of the feel good stories of the Major League Baseball season, but was denied his second straight win on Sunday when the San Diego Padres bullpen couldn't hold a lead.
Estes, a 1991 Douglas High graduate making his second start of the week after being out of the Major Leagues for two years, had an outstanding outing in the Padres 3-2 loss against the Seattle Mariners in Seattle. Estes allowed a first inning run, but that was it as he held the Mariners to two hits while striking out two and walking two over 6 1/3 innings.
But Heath Bell went on to give up a two-run double to Jose Lopez in the eighth inning that gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead and eventually the win.
"He's done very well in his two starts," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We hope he can keep it going. He's pitching with a lot of confidence."
In the first, Estes allowed an infield single to Ichiro Suzuki, then retired the next 13 batters before allowing Richie Sexson's single in the fifth. Estes was able to keep the Mariners off balance relying almost exclusively on his fastball.
"What is the point of throwing breaking balls if you can just throw fastball?" Estes said. "I keep it as simple as I can."
Estes, who missed all of 2007 working his way back from reconstructive elbow surgery, threw nearly as many balls (44) as strikes (45), but repeatedly got the Mariners to pound the ball into the ground - 12 times for outs, to be exact.
"I kept the ball down for the most part," Estes said. "They were aggressive for the most part. I got ahead and expanded the strike zone. It would have been nice to win this game and have a happy flight."
Estes got the first out of the seventh before walking Raul Ibanez. Black opted to go to his bullpen for ground-ball specialist Cla Meredith. Meredith did his job, getting Kenji Johjima on a ground ball for the second out. Again, Black went to the bullpen.
Bell entered the game to face Sexson with the tying run on second base. Bell proceeded to dial up three fastballs to the Mariners' first baseman that ran 93, 94 and 95 mph. Sexson swung through each of them to end the inning and the threat.
But Bell wouldn't escape the eighth unscathed. With one out, Bell allowed consecutive singles to Jose Vidro and Yuniesky Betancourt. Ichiro walked to load the bases.
Bell looked like he might get out of trouble when he got Beltre to swing right through a 96-mph fastball on the outside corner for the second out of the inning. But Lopez came through with a soft liner to right field that scored two runs.