Don Bauder 4:37 p.m., Dec. 27
Padres run over Dodgers in Petco Park opener
Dodgers give up 5 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Padres roll to a 9-3 victory
Tuesday. Opening Day at Petco Park. Pristine field. Red, white, and blue bunting hung along the railing in the stands. Sellout crowd. New field dimensions?
The Padres broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to an RBI pinch-hit double by Mark Kotsay in the bottom of the seventh inning and then added five insurance runs in the eighth to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on the opening day at Petco Park, 9-3. Clayton Richard was the first Padres pitcher to fall victim to the new and smaller dimensions in right field, but otherwise pitched out of jams and completed five innings.
Richard had an auspicious start when in the first inning he walked Carl Crawford and then Mark Ellis singled to left field, just out of the reach of the diving shortstop Everth Cabrera. A struggling Matt Kemp came to the plate and was called out on strikes.
Former Padre Adrian Gonzalez then walked up to the batter’s box as the crowd booed, and Gonzalez drew a walk to load the bases with only one out. But Richard got out of the jam when Juan Uribe hit a roller back to the mound, Richard threw home, and Nick Hundley threw to first base for a nifty double play.
In the bottom of the first with one out, the Padres Will Venable became the first player to hit a home run in the newly configured dimensions of Petco. The shot easily cleared the wall in right field – and would have cleared the wall in the old configuration - and the Padres took an early lead.
“I just wanted to get something out over the plate and drive it,” Venable said postgame.
With two outs, Yonder Alonso then doubled into the gap in right-center, and Jedd Gyorko followed with a single to drive in Alonso. After an inning, the Padres had staked themselves to a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers.
In the top of the fourth inning, Juan Uribe got the first home run in the new Petco Park configuration that wouldn’t have gone out in the original design. Adrian Gonzalez opened with a walk and Uribe put it just over the new, lower wall in right field, and the Dodgers tied the score.
“This might impact twenty to thirty balls the entire year, on both sides,” manager Buddy Black said prior to the game concerning the new configuration of Petco.
The Padres then got a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Nick Hundley led off with a home run over the left field wall. The Padres took the lead 3-2 and brought in Andrew Cashner to relieve Clayton Richard.
In the top of the seventh inning, Cashner gave up a single to Carl Crawford, and Crawford took second on a ground out by Mark Ellis and third base on a ground out by Matt Kemp. Joe Thatcher came in to relieve Cashner and gave up a single to left field to plate Crawford and the score was again tied, 3-3.
The Padres untied it in the bottom of the seventh, when Cameron Maybin led off with an infield single and Nick Hundley sacrifice bunted Maybin to second base. Mark Kotsay then pinch-hit and laced a double to right and Maybin scored, putting the Padres back on top of the Dodgers 4-3.
Looking for an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning, Jedd Gyorko led off with a walk against Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez and took second base on a passed ball. Alexi Amarista then walked and Matt Guerrier relieved Rodriguez.
Cameron Maybin sacrificed Gyorko to third base and Amarista to second. Hundley hit into a fielder’s choice with Gyorko tagged out coming home and Amarista taking third on the play.
But with two outs, Chris Denorfia singled to right field plating Amarista and the Padres had their insurance run. And then they got more.
After Everth Cabrera walked to load the bases, the Dodgers changed pitchers and Will Venable hit a J.P. Howell slider into the gap for a triple, knocking in all three base runners. Jesus Guzman pinch hit for Carlos Quentin and drew a walk and Yonder Alonso then singled home Venable.
“That was obviously a great sign,” Black said postgame concerning the hitting in the seventh and eighth innings. “It was great to add on there late in the game. Kotsay had a big hit and the big eighth [inning]. We think we’re capable of that moving forward.”
The Padres went to the ninth inning with a 9-3 lead. Brad Brach closed out the inning and the Padres improved to 2-5 on the young season.
Luke Gregerson got the win in relief while Ronald Belisario suffered the loss. Will Venable had an outstanding afternoon going 2 for 3 with a triple, a home run, and 4 runs batted in which ties his career high.
Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, on the forearm just above the wrist, and left the game. X-rays were taken and the initial report is optimistic, according to manager Buddy Black.
Logan Forsythe (disabled list, plantar fasciitis) continues to rehab his foot and continues in a boot-walker. According to Buddy Black, his return will take time. Chase Headley (disabled list, broken thumb) hit a couple of balls off of a tee on Tuesday and felt no pain. He also took some ground balls and is expected to be able to hit in the batting cage soon.
Wednesday, the Dodgers and Padres meet again when Eric Stults (1-0, 0.00) goes up against the Dodgers Chad Billingsley, who makes his season debut for the Dodgers. Game time is 7:10 PM PDST and will be carried by Fox Sports San Diego. Time Warner customers can listen in on radio 1090 AM, or watch the Cooking Channel instead and catch the summary of the game here in the San Diego Reader.
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