Matthew Lickona 8 p.m., Dec. 17
The only play more decisive in baseball than a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, is a walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth. Chase Headley found a change-up thrown by Pirates reliever Daniel McCutchen to his liking and deposited it into the right field stands, as the Padres beat the Pirates for the second straight night, this time in 10 innings by a margin of 7-5.
The Padres got off to a quick start against Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. In the bottom of the first inning, Everth Cabrera opened with a single and then swiped second base, his 22nd stolen base of the year and Cabrera has yet to be caught. He is chasing the major league record for consecutive stolen bases without being thrown out, which is 23 by Chase Utley.
Will Venable then came up with an infield single, sending Cabrera to third base. Chase Headley hit into a fielder's choice, Cabrera out at home plate with Venable taking third base and Headley second on the throw. Carlos Quentin doubled, plating Venable and Headley, and the Padres led the Bucs 2-0 after an inning.
Padres starter Jason Marquis got bitten in the top of the third inning, when with one out, Jose Tabata and Travis Snider hit back-to-back singles. Andrew McCutchen grounded into a force out, Snider out at second base but Alexi Amarista threw errant to first base, Tabata scoring, making it 2-1 Padres.
Both teams were hitting but not scoring, until the top of the sixth inning when the Pirates got to Jason Marquis one last time. With one out, Garrett Jones took a Marquis slider over the right field wall and the Pirates tied the score.
Marquis then walked Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes singled to center, moving Alvarez to second base, and Nick Vincent came in to relieve Marquis. Rod Barajas doubled to left off of Vincent, scoring Alvarez, and the Pirates had a lead, 3-2.
The lead was brief. Cameron Maybin opened the bottom of the sixth inning with a single to right field, and Jesus Guzman pinch-hit for Nick Vincent and hit an infield single, putting Maybin at second. Everth Cabrera's bunt was so well executed, he was safe at first to load the bases.
Will Venable then reached on an error, plating Cabrera, and the Padres tied the game 3-3 with still no one out. But Chase Headley struck out looking and Carlos Quentin hit into a double-play to end the threat.
The Padres took the lead in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Yonder Alonso walked and Alexi Amarista doubled, Alonso taking third. Cameron Maybin then walked to load the bases.
A.J. Burnett left the game, replaced on the mound for the Pirates by Tony Watson, and Chris Denorfia pinch hit and lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Alonso. The Padres reclaimed the lead, 4-3.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Padres added an insurance run, one they would wind up needing just to stay in the game. Will Venable opened the frame with a double off of Pirates reliever Chad Qualls, and after Chase Headley grounded out moving Venable to third base, Carlos Quentin hit a sacrifice fly to left, plating Venable, and it was 5-3 Padres going into the 9th inning.
Dale Thayer came in to close out the ninth in search of a save, but was derailed with one out by a single from Andrew McCutchen. After Neil Walker grounded out forcing McCutchen at second base, Garrett Jones hit his second home run of the game and his 21st of the season and tied the score at 5-5.
It took until the bottom of the tenth inning, when Daniel McCutchen issued a walk to Will Venable to open up the frame. After Venable stole second base, Headley became a hero with the walk-off home run, his 21st of the season. The win was the third straight for the Padres.
The Padres optioned pitcher Ross Ohlendorf to AAA Tucson recently, calling up reliever Nick Vincent, which means they were a starter short in the five-man rotation. Today, the Padres called up left-handed pitcher Andrew Werner from AAA Tucson, who will be making his big league debut. The corresponding roster move was to option reliever Brad Boxberger back to AAA Tucson.
San Diego will try and sweep Pittsburgh this afternoon in a game that is already in progress. Werner will face James McDonald (11-5, 3.72) of the Pirates. The usual suspects will broadcast, XX 1090 AM on radio and Fox Sports San Diego on television. Or there's always the race and sports book in Tijuana where you can even plop a wager down if you are so inclined.