In Vegas, LHP Renyel Pinto tossed four innings, allowing an unearned run and no hits. Pinto walked Jeremy Reed with one out in the top of the first inning, then threw a wild pitch to Bret Boone that enabled Reed to score to give Seattle an early 1-0 lead.
Before Pinto took the mound, a moment of silence was held to honor Pope John Paul II, who passed away earlier in the day.
Kit Pellow’s two-out RBI double to right center off Jon Leicester in the eighth inning broke a 1-1 tie and put the Mariners back in the lead. Left-hander Cliff Bartosh, recently acquired from the Indians for minor league pitcher Ronald Bay, pitched a scoreless top half of the ninth inning to set the stage for the Cubs’ late rally.
In the bottom of the ninth, Angel Echevarria connected on the first pitch he saw from right-hander Dan Reichert to tie the game, and moments later Henry Blanco followed in his footsteps with a solo home run to left that gave the Cubs the victory. It was Echevarria and Blanco's seventh inning hitting that created the Cubs' first run of the afternoon: Echevarria doubled to open the inning and later scored on Blanco's RBI single.
Bartosh, 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in six spring appearances with Cleveland, picked up the victory. Reichert suffered the loss and fell to 2-1 for the spring. The Cubs out-hit the Mariners, 9-4.
Elsewhere, Mark Prior threw 67 pitches in a minor league start against the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A club in Mesa. Prior allowed five runs in four innings, walking three and striking out five. Afterward, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Prior hopes to be activated in time for the Cubs' April 12 game against San Diego at Wrigley Field. Kerry Wood is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Sunday in Mesa. Wood, plagued by bursitis in his right shoulder this spring, hopes to be ready for the Cubs’ home opener set for Friday at 1:20 p.m. CDT against Milwaukee.
Saturday was also judgment day for several Cub players on the bubble hoping to make the 25-man roster. Two of those were OFs David Kelton, out of options with six years of minor league service under his belt, and Jason Dubois. Dubois was awarded the final spot on the Cubs' bench and Kelton was optioned to Triple-A Iowa after clearing waivers. Dubois hit .280 with four home runs and eight RBI for the Cubs in 26 games this spring; Kelton batted .300 in 27 games this spring.
RHPs Leicester, Todd Wellemeyer, Michael Wuertz and Sergio Mitre all had hopes of winning one of the final roster spots from the bullpen, and all but one succeeded. Mitre finished 2-2 with a 5.94 ERA in 16.2 innings and was optioned to Triple-A, where LHP Will Ohman was assigned earlier this week.
Leicester posted a 2.98 ERA in 16.1 IP this spring; Wellemeyer was impressive for the most part, posting a 2.45 ERA in 12 appearances in Cactus League play but walking nine while fanning 10; Wuertz posted a 2.03 ERA in 11 outings.
Those optioned to Triple-A will stay in Mesa through Tuesday and will travel to Albuquerque for the Iowa Cubs' season opener against the Isotopes Thursday. Minor Leaguers optioned to West Tennessee (Double-A), Daytona (Advanced A) and Peoria (Mid A) are scheduled to depart from Mesa Monday.