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SD@SEA: Maybin awarded first on three-ball walk

SEATTLE -- Before you credit Cameron Maybin for being sly about bolting for first base in the fifth inning Saturday for a premature walk, first consider that the San Diego center fielder was just doing what he thought was right.

Ball four, take your base.

"You foul off pitches, you see pitches and sometimes you get lost," Maybin said. "So you look up there [to the scoreboard] and you see the big numbers."

Only those big numbers on the scoreboard occasionally lie, as Maybin's walk on a three-ball count not only went largely unnoticed, but it also led to the only run scored at Safeco Field, as the Padres defeated the Mariners, 1-0, before a crowd of 22,798.

With one out in the fifth inning of a scoreless game, one dominated by pitching, Maybin walked after a seven-pitch at-bat against Mariners pitcher Doug Fister, casting his bat aside before jogging down the line to first base.

Only it shouldn't have been a walk, as the count on Maybin jumped from 1-2 to 3-2 in an at-bat that saw Maybin fall behind 0-2 with a called strike and then a swinging strike. But no one on the field seemed to notice, especially plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

"I wasn't about to argue," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Maybin eventually came home when teammate Alberto Gonzalez lined an RBI single off the end of shortstop Brendan Ryan's glove, allowing Maybin to score easily from second base, thus giving starting pitcher Cory Luebke (2-2) enough run support to earn the victory.

After the game, umpire crew chief Tom Hallion said "my plate umpire thought his count was wrong. The scoreboard had 3-2 and he thought he was wrong because when Maybin took off for first, nobody said anything. The catcher [Seattle's Josh Bard] didn't react so he thought he had the wrong count."

Seattle manager Eric Wedge, as it turns out, had the count right all along, though ended up convinced that he had missed a pitch based on the reaction of everyone else.

"He [Fister] threw the breaking ball in the dirt and at that point in time I thought it was 1-2. I looked up it was 3-2. I thought I just missed a pitch. Nobody reacted to it, nobody did anything," Wedge said.

"He went to first base so I felt like I was in the wrong but obviously that wasn't the case it was just the third ball. It was pointed out to me after the fact."

Luebke, relievers Chad Qualls and Mike Adams, and closer Heath Bell, who earned his 24th save of the season, made sure that run held up.

Luebke, after tossing five scoreless innings in his first start since being moved into the rotation last Sunday against the Braves, threw six scoreless innings against Seattle (40-43), allowing two hits while tying his career-high with seven strikeouts.

"What I like was [that] he was really aggressive with the fastball and pitched with a good live fastball to both sides of the plate," Black said of Luebke, who finished with 87 pitches, 61 for strikes.

Qualls worked out of a tight jam in the seventh inning when an error by shortstop Jason Bartlett put the potential tying run on third base with one out. But Qualls got ahead of Justin Smoak before getting him to chase a hard sinker just off the outside part of the plate.

"I knew that with one out, a sacrifice fly could score a run, so I wanted to throw it just a few inches off the outside part of the plate to make sure if he hit it that he hit it on the ground," Qualls said.

Qualls then got Greg Halman to flyout to end the inning and the threat. Adams came in to throw a perfect eighth inning before Bell secured the victory for the Padres (38-46) with a perfect ninth inning.

"The key at-bat was Smoak. ... I saw some good, hard sinkers," Black said. "The last one had some great action down."

As for Luebke, it was his first victory in two starts after picking up a win in relief earlier this season. As was the case against the Braves, he didn't use his slider much, but instead relied on his fastball.

"It was the same as the other day, I was trying to locate it early and get ahead," Luebke said. "I felt as though the slider was a little off again. I think if I had committed to it, I could have found it."

Fister allowed six hits and the one run in nine innings. He struck out seven and walked one batter -- Maybin, which turned out to be the only walk in a game that last two hours and nine minutes.

"I liked the way both guys used the fastball," Black said Luebke and Fister. Comments