SAN DIEGO — A rare occurrence happened Sunday afternoon as both great pitching and some offense sent the San Diego Padres to a win over the Atlanta Braves. The Padres used a four-run eighth-inning to respond to Atlanta’s solo run in the top half to take the series from the Braves.
Cory Luebke started his first game of the season for San Diego and was great, even though his outing was limited to five-innings. In his first start, Luebke one-hit the Braves and the bullpen took care of the rest as they also one-hit the Braves for the remainder of the game despite surrendering one-run.
The reason for the run being a throwing-error by Will Venable on Jordan Schafer’s double that brought home Eric Hinske all the way from first.
At the time, it seemed as if the Padres would lose another close heartbreaker. In the bottom-half of the eighth, Chris Denorfia walked, Cameron Maybin singled, and Jesus Guzman was intentionally walked with one-out. It appeared things were in good order with the bases loaded, but a failed bunt attempt by Will Venable that resulted in the second out for San Diego seemed to take all hope out of the fans watching in PETCO Park.
But, for once, things took a turn as three straight San Diego hits resulted in four unanswered runs for the Padres. Jason Bartlett’s RBI-single began the rally as it was followed by Orlando Hudson’s 2-RBI groundball up the middle. Another RBI-single, this time by Chase Headley now gave San Diego a 4-1 lead with just three outs left in the ninth to earn a series win over Atlanta.
The ninth was a piece of cake for Heath Bell who sent down the Braves in order for his twentieth-save and Padres 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
MINNEAPOLIS — A rough first-inning for the San Diego Padres led to a difficult deficit to overcome as the Padres fell to the Minnesota Twins 6-5. Besides it being the Padres first Interleague series of the season, it was also the return of Twins catcher Joe Mauer from the 60-day disabled list Friday.
For a guy who has missed more than two months of the season, Mauer looked as if he had not missed a beat. Batting third, Mauer started the five-run rally in the first with his first RBI on a single to center.
However, all six Twins runs were not due to stellar offense as the Padres made a few costly errors that allowed the inning to progress to stay alive.
The Twins lead-off man, Ben Revere, took first on a fielding error by San Diego’s second baseman Alberto Gonzalez. Mauer’s RBI-single then resulted in Mauer standing at second due to a throwing error by Cameron Maybin. Mauer’s presence in the lineup alone now might bring this Twins team back into contention in the AL-Central as the offense for the most part has been near the bottom. And this was evident as Michael Cuddyer followed with a ground-rule double to score Mauer.
After a single issued by Padres starter, Clayton Richards, was followed by a wild pitch allowing both base runners to advance into scoring position, Danny Valencia’s three-run shot gave the Twins a 5-0 lead after one.
While San Diego appeared to be in contention of this opening Interleague series, it was due to Chase Headley’s four-hits that kept the Padres within striking distance.
Headley had a two RBI-doubles in the third and fifth respectively that made the score 6-2. In the seventh, with two-outs and a man at first, Headley kept the inning alive with another single to bring up Ryan Ludwick who then hit a three-run homerun to make it one-run affair.
But that would be as close as the Padres would get to Minnesota since the opening pitches of the first-inning, as San Diego was sent down in order in the ninth for a 6-5 loss.
A few good things though can be taken from this loss which includes an 11-hit performance by San Diego; hands down one of their better offensive days. Also, Mauer’s presence in the lineup no doubt produced a spark. Finally, Minnesota has recently found their offense and gotten hot this month of June (12-3), averaging 4.6 runs per game. San Diego just caught a hot team at the wrong time.
SAN DIEGO — Two of worst offensive teams met again Saturday night as the Washington Nationals visited the San Diego Padres, and will complete their season encounters Sunday afternoon. The offensive production of course was non-present for this game too as the Nationals escaped with a 2-1 win.
For two teams that posses pitchers who go out and give quality starts for the most part, the lack of wins in their respective divisions force outsiders to look past this as there is no stat that records quality losing starts.
Padres pitchers this season have the third-best ERA (3.20), but, their batting average (.231) is near the bottom of MLB. This is nothing new, if anything a constant repetitive statement that the Padres lack serious offensive power to ever contend for a Wild Card berth. As for Washington, their team ERA (3.64) is tenth best in the majors, not too shabby. But, like their foe this weekend, batting is problem for this franchise too whose batting average (.229) is one worse than San Diego at 29th overall.
As for the game that was played, there were a lot of zeros on the board after the last recorded run was a solo homerun by the Padres Anthony Rizzo in the second-inning that cut the Nationals lead in half, but would be all San Diego would get in back-to-back 2-1 losses at the hands of Washington.
The Nationals compiled their two-runs in the first-inning. Danny Espinosa got the first run of the night doubling home Ian Desmond all the way from first.
One bright side to be a struggling club is that one can test the waters a little more freely without worry of blowing a lead in the division. The rare third-base steal took place on Espinosa’s successful attempt. That made things especially easy for Wilson Ramos who singled up the middle for an RBI and their second run.
San Diego did have a chance to tie or take the lead in the sixth as Brad Hawpe had the bases juiced, but struck-out for the final out of the inning, preventing the threat.
Aside from Padres starter Clayton Richards two runs in the first-inning, he followed with six shutout innings and the bullpen with an additional two no-hit innings. After Washington’s John Lannan allowed a homerun in the second, he too did not allow another run and the Nationals bullpen was also un-hittable in their 2 2/3 innings outing.
SAN DIEGO — In an inning that saw three errors result in five-runs, the San Diego Padres would be unable to recover, losing to the Houston Astros 7-4.
After an RBI-single in the second gave Houston the first lead of night, things really began to fall apart for San Diego in the third.
Clint Barmes and Hunter Pence hit back-to-back singles which was followed by Carlo Lee’s ground-rule double. With Jeff Keppinger batting, the errors began to pile on for the Padres. Kyle Phillips was called for catcher interference on Keppinger which loaded the bases for Houston. After Brett Wallace’s RBI-groundout, J.R. Towles took first on a fielding error by shortstop Jason Bartlett. Another error, this time a throwing error that would have made for a double-play resulted in two-runs crossing home for five-runs in the inning and a 6-0 lead.
The Padres were able to add a couple of runs in the bottom half of the third to kill some of the deficit. Two RBI-singles to right-field allowed Tim Stauffer and Bartlett to score, making the Astros lead now stand at four.
But it would never be enough as Houston continued to increase their lead on a Chris Johnson homerun to take a 7-2 lead after the fifth-inning.
San Diego did add two more runs in the seventh, both sacrifice-flies, but Houston’s lead was too much to overcome for the low-powered Padres offense, falling to the Houston Astros with a final of 7-4.
Bud Norris earned the victory for Houston, while Mark Melancon pitched a solid ninth for his fifth save of the season. Tim Stauffer on the other hand was forced to suffer the loss as he surrendered seven-runs.
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