Ian Pike 10:37 a.m., May 20
After Sunday's loss - after having a good lead and then getting creamed by the Pirates in the last game of that series - the Padres could have experienced quite a hangover going into Atlanta to face the Braves in the first game of a four-game series on Monday. They didn't. Excellent pitching and potent offense led the Padres to a 4-1 victory over the Braves.
Padres starter Eric Stults pitched into the eighth inning, giving up only one run on five hits, while striking out three. Chase Headley hit yet another home run, his 19th of the season.
In the top of the second inning, the Padres struck first. Chris Denorfia opened the inning with a double off of Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor, and after Yonder Alonso grounded out, Denorfia took third base. Cameron Maybin then hit a sacrifice fly, Denorfia tagging and scoring, and the Padres took a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Eric Stults was perfect through three innings, mowing down nine Braves in order. But in the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs, Jason Hayward reached on an error by Yonder Alonso, and Chipper Jones singled to left field. Hayward reached third on a throwing error by Quentin, but Stults got Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Padres struck again. Eric Stults singled, and Logan Forsythe was hit by a pitch, Stults taking second base. Alexi Amarista sacrificed Forsythe and Stults to second and third base, and Chase Headley singled home Stults and the Padres led 2-0.
Again, in the top of the sixth inning, the Padres added on when Chris Denorfia tripled and Yonder Alonso followed with a single, plating Denorfia. The Padres took a 3-0 lead over the Braves after six.
In the seventh inning with two outs, the Padres capped their scoring when Chase Headley belted his 19th home run of the season, clearing the center field wall. For Chase, it was his sixth home run in his last ten games, and the Padres took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Braves finally got to Stults in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs, Michael Bourn reached on an infield single, and Martin Prado tripled, scoring Bourn. Stults then gave way to Luke Gregerson, who struck out Jason Heyward to end the threat, and in was 4-1 going into the ninth inning.
With regular Padres closer Huston Street on the disabled list, Dale Thayer came in for the bottom of the ninth inning and retired the Braves in order. It was Thayer's 6th save of the season, as Thayer had filled the closers role previously when Street was hurt earlier in the season.
With the win, Eric Stults improved to 3-2 on the season, and Mike Minor fell to 6-9. The Padres are now 13 games under .500, and only 11 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
The Padres have called up left-handed pitcher Tom Layne from AA San Antonio. Layne was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in early May for cash. The corresponding move is designating left-handed pitcher Alex Hinshaw for assignment. Hinshaw was 1-1 with a 4.50 earned run average for the Padres this season in 31 relief appearances spanning 28 innings.
Chase Headley was named the National League Player of the Week for the period ending August 12th. In that span, Headley was 8-24 (.333) with 11 runs batted in and 3 home runs. Chase also sported a .750 slugging percentage with 18 total bases and 6 runs scored. Apparently, Chase will receive a nice sports watch for winning the award.
There seems to be some controversy in some reports that switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal is headed for a rehab assignment. Could be, but Padres radio analyst Bob Scanlan reports that Grandal is still experiencing a little discomfort swinging from one side. According to Corey Brock of MLB.COM, Grandal will rehab at Lake Elsinore beginning on Wednesday. We'll go with Brock's version.
Tuesday, the Padres will start Clayton Richard (9-11, 3.79) against Tim Hudson (11-4, 3.77) of the Braves. Game time is at 4:10 PM PDST, as usual on radio XX 1090 AM or television Fox Sports San Diego. You Time Warner and AT&T U-verse folks might have a soccer channel or something you can tune into. No idea.