SEATTLE -- Knowing Seattle's starters had been roughed up a bit in a weekend sweep by the Twins, right-hander Nathan Karns stepped up Monday and steadied the ship in the Mariners' 9-3 win over the Padres at Safeco Field.
"We haven't had that much success lately, but our offense has been really producing," Karns said after throwing 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball. "So I was just trying to keep it close and we have a very special offense here. As long as we keep it close, we'll get the big knocks and the offensive machine will start rolling and today was a prime example of that."
That's good company, but Karns has been very strong for Seattle since a rough opening effort. The 28-year-old has won five straight decisions and is 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA, while the Mariners are 8-1 over his last nine starts.
"I thought this was one of his best games of the year," manager Scott Servais said. "He was aggressive, went after and finished hitters. He knew he needed to get deep in the game, we talked about it beforehand and he did that. He was very efficient with his pitches and we really needed that today."
Karns, acquired from the Rays last winter, has been a significant factor for a pitching staff that leads the American League in ERA in large part because the five-man rotation has been solid from top to bottom. He says he's just enjoying being part of a contending team in his first year in Seattle.
"We're a confident bunch," Karns said. "We're not coming to the ballpark hoping to win. We know we possess the talent to win and it's more of us just going out there and staying within ourselves and playing the game right, executing pitches, making the routine plays and playing small ball on the bases when we have to, advancing a runner and setting things up for the big guys.
"For the most part, everyone has really been sticking to their roles and really playing to a high standard." he said. "That's what it takes to win. I feel like we have the clubhouse to do it."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.