Jeff Smith 9:05 a.m., Jan. 24
After a disastrous 10-game road trip which resulted in only one win, the Padres were apparently hungry for some home cooking. Once again back in Petco Park, the Padres offense waited until the eighth inning to erupt for six runs and beat the Diamondbacks Friday evening, 7-1.
Luckily, Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard (pictured) was able to hold the Diamondbacks to a run, scattering 7 hits and walking a batter while striking out three in 6 2/3 innings. Arizona got their run in the top of the third inning off of Richard on a two-out single up the middle by Miguel Montero, driving in Aaron hill who had reached on a fielder's choice and then made it to third base on a Justin Upton single to left.
The Padres got even when Alexi Amarista tripled with one out, and then Clayton Richard drove in Amarista with a ground ball to second base. The score remained tied until the eighth inning, as Padres hitters took a while to get to Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley.
"Miley's pretty good," Padres manager Buddy Black said after the game. "We haven't seen a lot of him, you can tell by the way he threw the ball tonight and by the way and the way he's been throwing all year, it was going to be a tough test. He's turned into a pretty nice young left handed pitcher."
Miley managed to keep his pitch count low, but the eighth inning was his undoing. With one out, Alexi Amarista reached first base on a bunt single. Jesus Guzman then pinch hit for reliever Andrew Cashner, and after taking a fastball he drove Miley's next pitch, a change up, over the left field wall for his first home run of the season to give the Padres a 3-1 lead. That was all the Padres needed, but they kept on coming at Arizona pitching.
After Chris Denorfia singled, Diamondbacks pitcher David Hernandez relieved Miley, and Cameron Maybin greeted Hernandez with a triple, scoring Denorfia. Yonder Alonso walked, and Carlos Quentin then singled to center driving in Maybin and moving Alonzo to second base. Anthony Bass ran for Quentin and Chase Headley then drew a walk to load the bases.
Brad Ziegler relieved Hernandez, and Nick Hundley hit a fly ball to right field which went off of Justin Upton's glove, plating Alonso and Bass. The play was ruled a sacrifice fly by Hundley and an error on Upton. At the end of eight, the Padres led 7-1, and Brad Brach came in to close it out for the Padres.
The Padres have now won six of their last nine at home.
The ability of Clayton Richard to hold the Diamondbacks to a single run was a key in making the eighth inning explosion possible. Richard threw an eight pitch first inning, but then had to battle Arizona hitting in the next four innings, getting his pitch count up.
"I think you have to give [the Diamondbacks] credit, they put some balls and bats together, fouled off some good pitches, hung in there and went deep in the count for a couple of innings, so they made it tough. But Nick [Hundley] was able to help things get going the right way and we were able to get through the next few innings," said Richard in the clubhouse, post-game.
Buddy Black had high praise for Richard after the game.
"Clayton stayed right there with [Wade Miley]," Black said. "He made some pitches at a couple of points throughout the game that was stressful, but he got through it."
Clayton Richard was pulled in the seventh inning when with two outs, he gave up back to back singles to Wade Miley and Willie Bloomquist. Reliever Luke Gregerson then came in to retire Aaron Hill on a ground out to second base. Richard finished the night with 102 total pitches, 70 for strikes.
There was also a bench-clearing incident in the top of the eighth inning as Andrew Cashner relieved Gregerson. After striking out Justin Upton and getting Miguel Montero to pop out, Cashner ran the count full to Chris Young. Cashner then threw a change-up inside to Young, knocking him down, but walking him. Young trotted to first base, but began to jaw at Cashner on the way to taking his base.
Young was then restrained and the dugouts emptied, followed by the bullpens. No contact was made between the opposing players, and cooler heads prevailed. Young then got a good lead off of first on a 1-0 Cashner fastball and tried to steal second base, but a accurate and quick throw by catcher Nick Hundley caught Young to end the inning.
The Padres improved to 18-35 while the Diamondbacks fell to 23-29.
The Padres called up catcher Yasmani Grandal from AAA Tucson and optioned pitcher Jeff Suppan to the same club. Grandal came to the Padres as part of the trade that sent Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds. Grandal was batting .317 with 4 home runs and 23 runs batted in with Tucson. The Padres are now carrying three catchers on the roster, so how Grandal will be used should prove interesting.
Closing pitcher Huston Street pitched his first inning of rehab with the Lake Elsinore Storm since going on the disabled list. He retired all three batters he faced on nine total pitches with a strike out. There is no timeline yet for Street's return to the Padres.
Saturday, the Padres will face the Diamondbacks in the second game of the three-game series, with Edinson Volquez (2-5, 3.46) facing Arizona's Daniel Hudson (1-1, 5.48). First pitch is scheduled early, at 4:15 PDST and can be seen on Fox Sports San Diego or heard on radio XX1090. The first 25,000 fans will receive a Padres alternate jersey replica.