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Eric Stults has been surprisingly effective since the Padres claimed him off of waivers from the Chicago White Sox in 2012, and now his total record with the San Diego Padres stands at 11-5 in 21 starts. His latest victory came Tuesday evening as the Padres downed the Miami Marlins, 5-1.

While Stults kept the Marlins from scoring, the Padres got four runs in the first two innings and that was all they needed. Ten hits and three walks, as well as two Marlins errors enabled the Padres to plate their runs.

“We had a good game plan, and tonight it worked out,” Stults said postgame. “I think it’s part of my game plan, to try and get guys to swing at that pitch that’s borderline.”

Manager Buddy Black said after the game, “I thought it was a game that we’ve seen before from Eric. The mix of pitches, get some key outs when he needed them, the punch-out to Diaz was a huge out for Eric. The double-play ball after a lead-off hit sort of got the momentum back on our side.”

Stults pitched 6 1/3 innings giving up one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out four. His record this season improved to 3-2.

Although the game was good for the Padres, it generally lacked excitement except for Will Venable’s home run in the second inning. With Jedd Gyorko on first base with a lead-off single, Will hit a Alex Sanabia pitch that seemed to get a lot of wood on the ball, although the ball traveled at a high trajectory and blended well with the sky.

Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna appeared to have a beat on the ball and have it lined up for a catch in middle-right field. Suddenly, Ozuna threw his hands up while looking skyward, appearing that he had no idea where it was.

Meanwhile, Gyorko had stopped between first and second base anticipating a possible catch so he could scamper back to first base. This also froze Venable who couldn’t advance past the runner in front of him.

The ball came down in the rear area of the Petco Porch for a home run. Only then did the runners circle the bases in a bizarre play not often seen.

“They were both in my sightline, the ball and the outfielder. I knew right away [Ozuna] didn’t see it. I thought off the bat it was going to be a home run. I knew we were in pretty good shape when [Ozuna] had his hands in the air and he didn’t see the ball. So one way or the other it was going to be a good result, and then when the ball landed in the seats like I originally thought, it was the best result possible,” Buddy said.

Will Venable had no idea where the ball was, nor did Jedd Gyorko on first base, and even first base coach Dave “Doc” Roberts lost sight of the ball. The majority of the small crowd was confused as well, not to mention the press box and even the television cameras.

“It felt like I hit it high but I felt like I hit it really good,” said Will Venable. “I didn’t know that [Ozuna] had lost the ball, I just thought that was the play on it – obviously disappointed that I didn’t hit it better at that point – but then Doc was saying that he can’t see it, I started running when Jedd took off and it was in the seats.”

It was Will’s fourth home run of the season. “I saw the ball pretty much when it hit the seats, that was it,” Will said. “There was really nowhere for me to go. Once Doc indicated to us that the right fielder had lost the ball, still not knowing where it was going to pop up at, Jedd and us got to know a little more and then it landed.”

Strange play. But perhaps Buddy Black put the event into perfect baseball perspective. “Like I’ve said before,” Buddy remarked after the game, “this is why we play the game. You see stuff.”


Notes:

Wednesday, the series with the Marlins wraps up with San Diego assured of a series win and looking for a sweep. It’s a day game with first pitch scheduled for 12:40 PM PDST, and Jason Marquis (3-2, 4.25) will throw for the Padres while the Marlins will offer up Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 4.14). Radio 1090 AM will broadcast as usual and Fox Sports San Diego will televise the game.

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