"It was nice to see Padilla come back," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We got six innings out of him, and he pitched pretty good."
The Rangers, despite winning 10 of their last 12, are still three games behind the Angels in the American League West. If the Rangers can keep Padilla (8-5, 4.66) on the mound and on a roll every fifth day, he could be a nice boost for their playoff hopes.
"It would do a lot for us," Washington said. "Any time you can put a starting pitcher out there the caliber of Padilla, especially when healthy, it would be a big lift for us. Especially with the problems we've had in our starting rotation. Hopefully he can stay healthy and his stamina gets stronger."
Padilla went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, a walk and three strikeouts. That's not bad considering he spent the past two weeks dealing with swine flu.
"His velocity was down a notch, but he was able to keep the ball down and compete," catcher Taylor Teagarden said. "I was happy with what I saw."
After Friday night's victory, Padilla is 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA in his last 12 starts going back to the beginning of May. The Rangers are 8-4 in those starts.
Compare those results to three pitchers the Rangers coveted in the days and hours leading up to Friday's Trade Deadline. Halladay is 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA in his last 12 starts, but the Blue Jays went 4-8 in those games. Jarrod Washburn was 5-3 with a 1.87 ERA while the Mariners went 8-4 in his last 12 starts and Cliff Lee was 5-4 with a 3.21 ERA with the Indians going 6-6 in his last 12 starts.
Padilla doesn't come close to the spectacular ERA that the others have, but the bottom line is winning the game. The Rangers, with their superior bullpen, can do that with Padilla on the mound and pitching like he has over the past three months.
The problem is keeping him on the mound. He was on the disabled list for two weeks at the end of May with a strained right shoulder, he was skipped in a start on July 4 because of more shoulder problems and now has had to deal with the swine flu. Because of all that, he has six fewer starts than Lee, who made his 23rd start on Friday.
"If we can keep him healthy, he's shown us what he can do," third baseman Michael Young said. "If he can throw strikes and keep us in the game, good things happen. There's no secret we rely on him and [Kevin Millwood]. Obviously you need everybody, offensively and defensively, but we rely on guys who have been down this road before."
Padilla had a little trouble in the first inning when he issued a two-out walk to Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez lifted a fly ball down the left-field that just cleared the wall for a two-run home run.
That gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead. But Padilla was able to hold it there while the Rangers mounted a comeback against Mariners left-hander starter Jason Vargas. Elvis Andrus' sacrifice fly scored the Rangers' first run in the second inning, and then they broke loose with the long ball in the fifth.
Teagarden tied the game with a one-out home run in the fifth, his second of the season, and Marlon Byrd smashed a three-run homer with two out in the inning. That was his 11th long ball of the season, setting a new personal best. He has already has a career-high 31 doubles.
"I've been working hard since I came to Texas, getting better as a player, and this comes from getting a chance to play every day," Byrd said. "Year to year your numbers change, and this year the doubles and home runs are a lot higher than they've been."
Padilla made it through six. He followed Jose Lopez's first-inning homer by retiring 14 of 16 hitters. The Mariners got one more run off him in the sixth on three straight two-out singles by Branyan, Lopez and Ken Griffey Jr. Padilla retired Kenji Johjima on a grounder to short and left with a 5-3 lead.
After Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless seventh, the Mariners scored once off Jason Grilli in the eighth. But C.J Wilson retired four straight hitters for his 12th save.